(The Center Square) – Multiple legal challenges to President Joe Biden's workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be consolidated and heard by justices with the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
States, businesses and other groups filed 34 lawsuits against the Biden administration's requirement that private sector businesses with 100 or more employees require workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face weekly testing. The lawsuits were filed across all 12 federal circuits.
They argue the mandate is unconstitutional government overreach that will add to the nationwide worker shortage by forcing people to quit their jobs. They also argue it would be expensive and nearly impossible to enforce.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation held a lottery Tuesday and the 34 lawsuits will be consolidated and sent to the Sixth Circuit for arguments.
A nationwide stay of the mandate remains in effect after the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans twice ruled for plaintiffs, citing "grave" constitutional concerns.
"The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers)," the Fifth Circuit said in its second ruling.
Daniel Suhr, managing attorney with the Liberty Justice Center, who with the Pelican Institute filed the Fifth Circuit case on the behalf of Louisiana businessman Brandon Trosclair, said he would file a motion seeking to move the consolidated cases to the New Orleans-based court.
"This case is going to be a battle royale," Suhr told The Center Square. "There is a lot at stake here, not just for our clients but for our country, our economy."
Suhr noted that the Fifth Circuit already has done substantial work on LJC's lawsuit and it would be more efficient legally to hold arguments there.
Under Biden's direction, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) earlier this month released details of the vaccine mandate, which could affect an estimated 74 million American workers. The mandate was scheduled to go into effect Jan. 4 before the Fifth Circuit ordered the stay.
The policy also would impose nearly $14,000 in fines per employee if businesses are caught letting their workers skirt the mandate.
The Biden administration says the mandate is necessary to protect workers and end the pandemic.
Ultimately, the lawsuits likely are to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. Suhr said the consolidated cases could be in front of the Supreme Court as early as December.