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November 6, 2021 4:30 PM, EDT

Appeals Court Stays Vaccine Mandate on Larger Businesses

A judge's gavel William_Potter/Getty Images

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NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court on Nov. 6 temporarily halted the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers.

The 5th U.S. 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 Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said the action stops President Joe 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 Landry, a Republican.

Even if the vaccine requirement goes into effect, truck drivers traveling alone in their cabs would be exempt from it, according to a statement by U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

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 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 in part because its safety rules pre-empt state laws.

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 Nov. 8, followed by petitioners’ reply on Nov. 9.

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