US court halts Joe Biden vaccine mandate for larger firms

Stay on compulsory inoculations comes after at least 27 states file lawsuits objecting to the rule

Joe Biden believes the vaccine mandate impasse will prove temporary. AFP
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The US federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted Joe Biden's bid to make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for workers at firms with 100 or more workers.

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by January 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said the action stops US President Biden “from moving forward with his unlawful overreach.”

“The president will not impose medical procedures on the American people without the checks and balances afforded by the constitution,” said a statement from Mr Landry, a Republican.

At least 27 states filed lawsuits challenging the rule in several circuits, some of which were made more conservative by the judicial appointments of former Republican President Donald Trump.

The 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans, said it was delaying the federal vaccine requirement because of potential “grave statutory and constitutional issues” raised by the plaintiffs.

The government must provide an expedited reply to the motion for a permanent injunction Monday, followed by petitioners’ reply on Tuesday.

The Biden administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations as the quickest way to end the pandemic that has claimed more than 750,000 lives in the United States.

The administration says it is confident that the requirement, which includes penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation, will withstand legal challenges.

Further reason for hope came for Mr Biden on Saturday when the House on Saturday approved a $1 trillion US infrastructure package of road and other projects after Democrats resolved a months-long standoff between progressives and moderates.

Updated: November 06, 2021, 9:48 PM