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Must employers follow Biden's vaccine mandates?
White House refuses to rule out potential lockdowns
Fox Business contributors Liz Peek and Bill McGurn react to the Biden administration announcing it will not rule out future lockdowns and mandates.
Tens of millions of workers across the U.S. are in limbo as federal courts have issued different rulings related to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for larger private companies, certain health care workers and federal government contractors.
A federal appeals court panel has allowed a vaccine requirement for employers with 100 or more workers, although Republican attorneys general, business associations and conservative groups have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A vaccine mandate for companies that have contracts with the federal government is on hold nationwide, while a separate mandate for health care employees who work for providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding has been blocked in half the states.
The courts are responding to lawsuits brought by Republican-led states, conservative groups and some businesses. They argue in part that the vaccine requirements infringe on states’ rights to regulate public health matters. Numerous legal challenges are pending, some involving groups of states and others filed by states acting alone.
Separate Biden administration vaccine mandates for federal government employees and the military remain in effect, as do mask requirements for airline passengers and people using public transportation.
The legal cases concern whether the federal government can force employers to require vaccinations. Courts have generally been accepting of requirements that businesses and universities have put in place on their own — as well as those imposed by state and local governments.
More than four-fifths of adults nationwide already have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But Biden contends his various workforce vaccine mandates are an important step to drive up vaccination rates and contain the virus outbreak, which has killed more than 800,000 people in the U.S.
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Opponents have taken a three-tiered approach to challenging the requirements. In lawsuits, they contend the vaccine mandates were imposed without proper public comment, were not authorized by Congress and infringe on states' rights to regulate public health matters.
"The reasoning across the cases is basically the same, which is that these statutes don’t give the president or the agency in question the authority to issue the mandates," said Gregory Magarian, a constitutional law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
The Biden administration contends its rule-making authority is firm and supersedes any state policies prohibiting vaccine requirements. Recent experience shows that such mandates generally prompt people to get vaccinated: By the time a Biden requirement for federal workers to be vaccinated took effect in late November, 92% had received at least their first dose of the shot.
Following is a rundown of some of Biden's most sweeping vaccine requirements and the status of the legal fights over them.
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