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DOJ Files Emergency Brief Asking Court to Unblock COVID Vaccine Work Rules

The Justice Department argued that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals made an error in its original judgment.

A registered nurse draws up a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 booster at Park Avenue Health Center in Arlington, Massachusetts, on November 9, 2021.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has formally requested that a federal court lift its stay on rules from the Biden administration that require businesses with more than 100 employees to follow certain standards amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked rules published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) earlier this month that would have required companies of that size to have unvaccinated employees get jabbed or undergo weekly coronavirus testing starting January 4. Unvaccinated workers would also be required to start wearing masks in the workplace starting in December.

The court had found that OSHA overreached its authority, saying that the agency only has jurisdiction on workplace safety. Because the coronavirus has spread throughout the country, OSHA couldn’t enforce rules relating to it in workplaces, the court had said.

In its emergency filing, the DOJ said that the court’s ruling was faulty.

“Congress charged OSHA with addressing grave dangers in the workplace, without any carve-out for viruses or dangers that also happen to exist outside the workplace,” the department said in its legal brief to the court.

The case will likely wind up in the United States Supreme Court. The matter is also set to be heard in the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear close to 30 lawsuits against the OSHA rules.

If the Supreme Court takes up the matter, it’s unclear how it may rule on the matter. In October, the High Court let stand a state-based vaccine mandate in Maine. But it may rule in a different fashion when it comes to whether the federal government has such powers.

The emergency filing from the DOJ comes on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new figures on the effectiveness of the vaccines. While none of the coronavirus vaccines are 100 percent effective, they do provide a great amount of protection versus not getting vaccinated, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said.

According to the data, those who are unvaccinated are 5.8 times more likely to test positive for coronavirus versus those who are vaccinated. The unvaccinated are also nine times more likely to require hospitalization, and 14 times more likely to die of the virus, than are vaccinated individuals, the numbers from the CDC demonstrate.

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