AMA urges against blocking federal vaccination and testing mandate

The American Medical Association filed an amicus brief Nov. 11 urging a federal appeals court to preserve a COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandate for private employers with more than 100 employees. 

In the brief, the association stated that "COVID-19 poses a grave danger to public health" and halting enforcement of the mandate would "severely and irreparably harm the public interest." The group also argues that vaccines are safe and effective in helping reduce COVID-19 transmission at work; the workplace becomes safer when more workers get vaccinated; and widespread inoculation is the most effective means for protecting workers from the virus.

The American Medical Association's brief is in response to a lawsuit filed Nov. 5 by Brandon Trosclair — a Louisiana business owner who employs nearly 500 people across 15 grocery stores in Louisiana and Mississippi — and a group of remote workers from Texas, who work for Raleigh, N.C.-based CaptiveAire Systems. Petitioners in the lawsuit are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans to strike down the vaccination and testing mandate on grounds that the emergency temporary standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration exceeds OSHA's statutory authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

On Nov. 6, the Fifth Circuit suspended the vaccination requirement after a separate group of plaintiffs — including Louisiana, Utah, Texas, South Carolina and Mississippi — also filed a lawsuit Nov. 5 questioning OSHA's authority to issue the rule. 

A panel of three federal appeals court judges wrote there is "cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate."

The Fifth Circuit decision temporarily stops the vaccination requirement while the court conducts a more thorough review.

President Joe Biden's administration is defending the vaccination and testing mandate in court, saying that states suing "have not shown that their claimed injuries outweigh the harm of staying a standard that will save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations."

Moving forward, the Fifth Circuit will decide whether to reverse its suspension or permanently block the mandate as other legal challenges are filed in other courts, , according to The New York Times. The newspaper reported many pending challenges could be grouped together before an appeals court later in November.

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