A federal appeals court in New Orleans has halted the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing requirement for private businesses, delivering another political setback to one of the White House’s signature public health policies.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, helmed by one judge who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and two others who were appointed by President Donald Trump, issued the ruling Friday, after temporarily halting the mandate last weekend in response to lawsuits filed by Republican-aligned businesses and legal groups.
Calling the requirement a “mandate,” the court said the rule, instituted through the Labor Department, “grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority,” according to the opinion, written by Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt and joined by Judges Edith H. Jones and Stuart Kyle Duncan.
“Rather than a delicately handled scalpel, the Mandate is a one-size fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers) that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address,” they wrote.
They said they believed that the ruling imposed a financial burden on businesses and potentially violated the commerce clause of the Constitution.
“The Mandate imposes a financial burden upon them by deputizing their participation in OSHA’s regulatory scheme, exposes them to severe financial risk if they refuse or fail to comply, and threatens to decimate their workforces (and business prospects) by forcing unwilling employees to take their shots, take their tests, or hit the road,” they wrote.
The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit is considered one of the country’s most conservative appeals courts.The vaccine mandate was released by the Biden administration last week after weeks of deliberation. It says private employers with more than 100 employees must require staff to get vaccinated — or face weekly testing and mandatory masking. Workers who don’t work on-site or with others are able to be exempted.
Even though the testing option makes it softer than many of the requirements instituted by private companies and state and municipal governments, it has faced strong blowback from a chorus of conservative groups, businesses and mostly Republican officials.
The court halted the policy, scheduled to take effect Jan. 4, and ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration not to take further steps to implement or enforce the mandate. It is not clear whether the 5th Circuit will determine the fate of the mandate. The Biden administration had asked the 5th Circuit to hold off on ruling until a judicial lottery can take place next week to consolidate several challenges to the mandate before a single appeals court.
Federal officials spent weeks hammering out the policy, aware of the high number of legal challenges it would face but believing that the order was well within the Labor Department’s powers to keep workplaces free of “grave dangers” in times of emergency.
Monday, November 15, 2021
After temporarily blocking the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for private employers last month, the conservative 5th Circuit has now officially ruled the entire vaccine mandate unconstitutional.
If the 5th Circuit is right, there's basically no government agency with the authority to regulate anything.
Knowing that this would be the perfect case for the Federalist Society ghouls on SCOTUS to dismantle everything since the New Deal, the Justice Department says it will defend the mandate anyway.
We'll see how far it goes. But I think by July 4th, we'll have a drastically different new legal landscape in America.
It's hard enough trying to cat herd all the Dems in one direction these days, but the one thing that all Democrats seem to agree on is that Kamala Harris is somehow a "major problem".
Worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus, key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff -- deciding there simply isn't time to deal with them right now, especially at a moment when President Joe Biden faces quickly multiplying legislative and political concerns.
The exasperation runs both ways. Interviews with nearly three dozen former and current Harris aides, administration officials, Democratic operatives, donors and outside advisers -- who spoke extensively to CNN -- reveal a complex reality inside the White House. Many in the vice president's circle fume that she's not being adequately prepared or positioned, and instead is being sidelined. The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she's able to do politically. And those around her remain wary of even hinting at future political ambitions, with Biden's team highly attuned to signs of disloyalty, particularly from the vice president.
She's a heartbeat away from the presidency now. She could be just a year away from launching a presidential campaign of her own, given doubts throughout the political world that Biden will actually go through with a reelection bid in 2024, something he's pledged to do publicly and privately. Or she'll be a critical validator in three years for a President trying to get the country to reelect him to serve until he's 86.
Few of the insiders who spoke with CNN think she's being well-prepared for whichever role it will be. Harris is struggling with a rocky relationship with some parts of the White House, while long-time supporters feel abandoned and see no coherent public sense of what she's done or been trying to do as vice president. Being the first woman, and first woman of color, in national elected office is historic but has also come with outsized scrutiny and no forgiveness for even small errors, as she'll often point out.
Defenders and people who care for Harris are getting frantic. When they're annoyed, some pass around a recent Onion story mocking her lack of more substantive work, one with the headline, "White House Urges Kamala Harris To Sit At Computer All Day In Case Emails Come Through." When they're depressed, they bat down the Aaron Sorkin-style rumor that Biden might try to replace her by nominating her to a Supreme Court vacancy. That chatter has already reached top levels of the Biden orbit, according to one person who's heard it.
She's perceived to be in such a weak position that top Democrats in and outside of Washington have begun to speculate privately, asking each other why the White House has allowed her to become so hobbled in the public consciousness, at least as they see it.
"She's very honored and very proud to be vice president of the United States. Her job as the No. 2 is to be helpful and supportive to the President and to take on work that he asks her to take on," said Eleni Kounalakis, the lieutenant governor of California and a longtime friend. Kounalakis spoke with the vice president last Monday morning before Harris departed for a diplomatic mission to France.
"It is natural that those of us who know her know how much more helpful she can be than she is currently being asked to be," Kounalakis said. "That's where the frustration is coming from."
An incumbent vice president should be a shoo-in the next time the party's presidential nomination is open. But guessing who might launch a theoretical primary challenge to Harris has become an ongoing insider parlor game. Other politicians with their own presidential ambitions have started privately acknowledging that they are trying to figure out how to quietly lay the groundwork to run if and when Harris falters, as they think she might.
I'd say all this is CNN slander against the first Black woman veep, but as J. Jonah Jameson reminds us in the first Spider-Man film on the subject of slander, "It is not. I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel."
The knives are definitely out for Harris, and in an America that treated Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as badly as they did, here in 2021 Harris is getting the worst of both. Everyone it seems wants to dunk on her, and while Joe Biden could actually put a stop to it among Democrats, apparently he doesn't want to right now.
I shouldn't be surprised by this. Nobody should. This is what happens to Black women with even a modicum of power, they are dismantled and destroyed, their careers ended. We've seen it time and time again, because it's so easy to do in order to clear the decks for others to come in, corporate, entertainment, political. Every time.
And I will do my best to every time call it out.
- The Trump organization is expected to sell Trump's DC hotel in the Old Post Office building to a Miami-based investment firm for $375 million, the hotel will be renamed the DC Waldorf Astoria.
- Japan's now former princess Mako is heading for the US after marrying her husband being forced to leave the Japanese royal family upon marriage.
- Florida's legislature will be in special session this week to pass bills to level heavy penalties against any business or local government that requires the COVID-19 vaccine of employees.
- UK PM Boris Johnson is calling the COP26 climate summit deal the "death knell" of coal power in Europe at least, but India, China and other developing economies will continue coal use.
- Texas power regulators have ruled that natural gas customers in the state will be paying for February's record cold snap to the tune of $3.4 billion over 30 years.