SALT LAKE CITY — The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with Utah and other states seeking to block the Biden administration’s efforts to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or regular testing on businesses with more than 100 employees .
In a ruling handed down Friday night, the Louisiana court has suspended enforcement of the rule pending further lawsuits. It also ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration not to take steps to enforce the mandate until further court order. Utah, Texas, South Carolina and Mississippi have petitioned to challenge the mandate.
“It is clear that refusing the petitioners’ proposed residence would cause them irreparable harm. First, the mandate threatens to significantly burden the freedom interests of unwilling individual recipients, who are faced with a choice between their job(s) and their jab( s). ),’ wrote Judge Kurt Engelhardt.
Utah’s Republican political leaders welcomed the ruling in comments to FOX 13 Friday night. Governor Spencer Cox has maintained vaccine or testing mandate was unconstitutional.
“We are encouraged by the court’s recognition that OSHA rule exceeds their authority with this mandate. This is a victory for the Utahns,” the governor said in a statement.
READ: Utah records 22 new COVID-19 deaths, 3,842 additional cases Friday
“I am grateful that the federal court has reaffirmed its grip on the Biden administration’s enforcement of the blatantly superlative vaccine mandates. It is encouraging for the court to ‘believe there are serious statutory unconstitutional issues with the mandate,'” said Senate President J. Stuart Adams, R Layton. “Personal health decisions should not be forced on individuals or companies. Utah will continue to fight to preserve our personal and health freedoms.”
The ruling would not affect private companies that have implemented vaccine mandates. In Utah, however, the legislature just passed a law that blocks private companies from firing employees who claim religious, personal, or medical exemptions. Instead, they can be “reassigned” within a company. Under a watered-down version of the bill passed in special session this week, workers could still be fired for refusing the vaccine if their role cannot be assigned to accommodate them..
While opposing government vaccine mandates, Utah’s Republican political leaders have tried to walk a fine line in providing support to private companies that choose to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine themselves.
“I am extremely excited about the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court with states seeking to block the Biden administration’s testing and vaccine mandate. It is clear that the federal government has overstepped its limits and we remain committed to this egregious abuse of power,” House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said in a statement.
Read the opinion of the 5th Circuit Court here: