Secular Semaphore:  Boston’s Sole Exclusion of Christian Flag in Otherwise Open Participation Program Faces Supreme Court Challenge


Shurtleff, et al. v. City of Boston, et al., No. 20-1800 (S. Ct.). Oral argument set for January 18, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


Upon application, the City of Boston permits groups to utilize spaces owned or managed by the city for commemorative purposes.  Administered in conjunction with those spaces is a three flagpole display at Government Center, Boston’s City Hall.  

Applications appear to have been freely granted up until 2017, when a group called “Camp Constitution” applied to the city property manager for permission to raise a “Christian flag” at Government Center to commemorate the role of the Judeo-Christian tradition in Massachusetts history.  

Boston had never before denied an application for use of the flagpoles, but Camp Constitution’s application was denied not on the basis of the appearance of the flag proposed to be raised, identical in material respects to the Bunker Hill flag, but on the basis of its name, “Christian.”

The city property manager feared that the brief display of the flag raised Establishment Clause concerns.  The city’s law department concurred, as did the United States Court of Appeals, following judgment on an agreed upon statement of facts in the United States District Court.

The First Circuit perceived the flagpoles and the flags displayed upon them to be government speech exempted from the First Amendment speech clause.  

Camp Constitution, by its leader, Harold Shurtleff, argues before the Supreme Court that the government speech construction offered by the First Circuit was in error.  The city spaces available for private use, open to all but Camp Constitution, are forums governed by the rules applicable to such spaces, which preclude the government from excluding views concerning religion. 

Boston argues that Shurtleff is wrong on the facts, notwithstanding that the case was presented on an agreed-upon statement of facts before the trial court.  The flagpoles are exclusively government property, Boston asserts, such that any use of the flagpoles is or becomes government speech excluded from First Amendment speech constraints.

The Solicitor General of the United States has joined the proceedings as amicus supporting reversal of the First Circuit decision, asserting that the questions raised in the case affect federally managed lands and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Park Service, upon which properties many groups frequently seek to hold events.

Oral argument will be held at 10:00 a.m. today.

Shurtleff v. Boston, No. 20-1800 Brief of Petitioners

Shurtleff v. Boston, No. 20-1800 Brief of Respondents

Shurtleff v. Boston, No. 20-1800 Reply Brief of Petitioners

Shurtleff v. Boston, No. 20-1800 Brief of the United States as Amicus Curiae

Supreme Court Stays Stays of Healthcare Workers’ Vaccine Mandate, Finding Federal Authority Within Regulation of Medicare and Medicaid Programs


Biden, et al. v. Missouri, et al., No. 21A240.

Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, et al. v. Louisiana, et al., No. 21A241.

Order and Opinion issued January 13, 2021.


The United States Supreme Court has granted the relief from stays entered in two United States District Courts enjoining the effectiveness of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule requiring Covid-19 vaccination of staff of facilities and providers receiving or participating in Medicare of Medicaid programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), administers Medicare insurance for the elderly and Medicaid insurance for low income persons.

A core feature of both programs, the Supreme Court has observed, is that participation in those programs is contingent upon compliance with HHS patient health and safety regulations.

Medicare and Medicaid regulation is extensive and longstanding and include measures to guard against transmission of infectious diseases, the Court has found.

In November, 2021, HHS added Covid-19 staff vaccine compliance to regulations governing those receiving federal reimbursement or funding (“covered” facilities or entities), attaching penalties for failure to comply as well as potential termination of participation in federal financing.

In demanding that all persons working in covered facilities be vaccinated, the Secretary of HHS made findings concerning viral contagion and the likelihood that contagion would be inhibited by requiring vaccination.

In addition, the Secretary found that fear of contracting Covid-19 has inhibited people from seeking needed health care.

The Covid-19 vaccine mandate was promulgated as Interim Final Rule without notice and comment.

The Supreme Court has concluded that the Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority to condition receipt of federal funding upon compliance with health and safety regulations.

Although the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers goes farther than other healthcare health and safety requirements, vaccination as a condition of employment is routine.  As vaccination is ordinarily administered by the states, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there has been no need for the federal government to step in to the process.

The Supreme Court rejected arguments that the Secretary failed to consider alternatives to vaccination or to support departure from previous ‘encouragement’ — but not requirement — of vaccination.

Even if the Secretary’s considerations and findings could be seen to be flawed, the Supreme Court observed, courts are not to disturb the Secretary’s determinations as arbitrary and capricious where the Secretary has proceeded “within a zone of reasonableness.”  Slip op. (per curiam) at 8 (citation omitted).

Objections to the Secretary’s excusing notice and comment are ill founded, the Court opined, because the arrival of the “flu season” has sufficient specificity to justify haste in implementing the Covid-19 vaccine rule  The Court found it unnecessary for HHS to confer with the states or to develop impact assessments before enacting its rule.

Finally, the vaccine mandate does not prohibit HHS involvement in the supervision or control of participants’ provision of services or the termination of employees, the Court concluded.  If the reading urged were adopted, almost all prior conditions of participation would fail.

A federal agency cannot act outside the power conferred upon it in an emergency, the Court reiterated.  This does not mean, however, that an agency is precluded from exercising authority that the agency has long been recognized to possess when  emergency conditions exist.

We disagree. Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Barrett dissent.  The dissenting justices have been unable to locate within the provisions cited by the government the authority to require an estimated ten million workers to submit to an irreversible medical procedure.  Rule-making powers that may be exercised for the administration of Medicare and Medicaid programs have not been shown to have a nexus with vaccination.  Adding to such general management authorities scattered references to ‘health and safety’ in order local such a nexus fares no better.

Bits of this and that. The ‘hodgepodge’ approach, as the dissent characterizes the majority’s analysis,  is not sufficient to support the majority’s finding that authorization for the Covid-19 mandate for healthcare workers exists.  References to health and safety measures found here and there will not suffice to support the kind of global regulatory power exercised here, nor can authority for exercise of such power be implied through ‘catchall’ language referring to undefined “other requirements” relating to health and safety.

Residual authority cannot be creatively implied, for it is a basic rule of statutory construction that where specific terms precede general terms, the general terms must consider matters similar to the specific terms.

General administrative requirements such as the provision of 24-hour services or record keeping cannot support a finding of authority for vaccination of all healthcare workers associated with covered facilities.

The one regulation that the dissent concedes might be relevant concerns infection control in long term care facilities but this relates to general sanitation, not vaccination.

The majority’s reliance on general regulatory powers granted to CMS does not provide evidence that authority to require healthcare employee vaccination exists.  The existence of some regulations does not support the majority’s finding that authority to issue the regulations in issue here has been granted.  Even the infectious disease control provisions concern sterilization and housekeeping and discuss vaccination only in the context of patient request for and consent to vaccination, and have nothing to do with the requirement imposed on employees through the Covid-19 rule.

Success in the Future is not Certain. The dissenting justices are of the opinion that the government applicants for relief from the federal district court stays have failed to demonstrate a strong likelihood of success on the merits, for in such vast measures as are in issue here, Congress must speak clearly, and nothing provided to the Court thus far shows that Congress has done so.

We disagree all the more. Justice Alito, joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch and Barrett, has provided a separate dissent.  Justice Alito opines that it is not likely that the federal government wil be able to show that there exists Congressional authorization to the Secretary to command that ten million workers submit to vaccination or lose their jobs.

The regulatory “hodgepodge” and scattered provisions as authorization was not forcefully argued by the government until its reply brief.  Stronger medicine than this is needed to cure the absence of any direct evidence to support legislative delegation to HHS to compel employee vaccinations.

Even if vaccination could be perceived to be authorized, the way in which HHS has conducted itself is fatally defective.  Administrative notice and comment, which is essential to ensuring public participation in rule-making, and which guards against lawmaking by unelected officials, has been undermined here.

Justice Alito, while recognizing that the majority has recognized only a likely hood of success on the merits, fears that the scope of the majority’s conclusions is dangerously broad.  The expansive view of regulatory powers embraced by the majority undermines fundamental principles of administrative law.  This in turn may induce extensive changes in executive branch behavior.

No good cause, no excuse. “Good cause” is necessary to excuse compliance with notice and comment provisions.  While no fixed standards supporting foregoing notice and comment exist, conditions excusing notice and comment require narrow construction.

The rationale for failing to comply with notice and commend procedures offered by the government fails to define what harm would ensue from the delay caused by notice and comment.  The ‘importance of vaccination’ will not in itself, define the harm to be avoided by suspending notice and comment.  It is not credible for HHS to argue that exigency excusing notice and comment exists where vaccines had already been in existence for ten months prior to the rule and millions of workers had been vaccinated by the time the CMS mandated issued.

No harm, yet still foul. CMS’ claim that no one was prejudiced by the failure to adhere to notice and comment  procedures obscures the fact that CMS must demonstrate good cause for doing so.  No requirement exists that respondents demonstrate a lack of good cause.  “No harm done” casts a backward glance that does not provide the good cause needed before suspending notice and comment.

Skipping the essentials bodes ill.  Notice and comment procedures are legislative limits on executive authority intended to ensure that executive agencies consider what they are doing “before restricting the liberty of the people they regulate”.  Alito dissent, slip op at 4.  (citation omitted). The majority’s adoption of CMS’ position endorses a regulate first, then listen approach which is especially dangerous where ten million workers must undergo an irreversible medical treatment or lose their jobs.

Biden v. Missouri, No. 21A240 and Becerra v. Louisiana, No. 21241. Order and Opinion January 13, 2022 (S.Ct.)

Supreme Court Stays OSHA Emergency Covid-19 Vaccination Regulation


National Federation of Independent Business, et al.  v. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, No. 21A244

Ohio, et al. v. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, No. 21A247

Order and Opinion issued January 13, 2022 (S. Ct.)


The United States Supreme Court has issued an order staying the effect of an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring larger employers to adopt policies requiring and administer records concerning employees’ Covid-19 vaccination (the “vaccine mandate”).  OSHA’s regulation requires employers of more than 100 employees to require employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, or face termination.  Employers may offer weekly testing and continuous masking as an alternative to vaccination at the employees’ expense. 

The vaccine mandate is estimated to affect 84 million workers nationally.  Employers who fail to comply face fines.  

Why the Supreme Court intervened to stay the effect of the OSHA vaccine mandate. Applying established legal standards governing issuance of a stay, the majority of the justices have concluded that the employers and the states challenging the vaccine mandate are likely to prevail on the merits of their claims.

No authority to be found. Nothing in the statute creating OSHA or any measures relating to the Covid-19 pandemic reflects Congressional intent to expand OSHA’s powers to regulate and to administer workplace safety to include public health matters in general, the justices observed.  OSHA’s emergency Covid-19 measure purports to preempt public health concerns traditionally reserved to the states.

This is no small measure. The unprecedented scope of the OSHA emergency regulation, undertaken without notice and comment procedures as an emergency measure excusing compliance, indicates the need for clear congressional authorization of a measure which would exercise powers of vast economic and political significance. Slip opinion (per curiam) at 6, citing Alabama Assn. of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Servs., 594 U. S. ___, ___ (2021) (per curiam) (slip op., at 6).

OSHA is a  workplace, not a public health, administration. OSHA is authorized to implement measures to address workplace safety, but OSHA has no authority to act as a federal public health agency regulating daily life.

Some room to act may exist notwithstanding the stay.  Vaccination, the majority noted, cannot be undone at the work day’s end.  Although OSHA lacks the vast powers it has attempted to exercise, particular industry working conditions may indicate vaccination would support employee health and safety.  OSHA might develop targeted mandates, but the sweeping mandate before the Court is causally untethered to the workplace, and is without historic precedent that would indicate it to be apt. 

The balance favors the affected employers and employees. Not only is OSHA without authority to regulate vaccination, equity favors a stay, the Court’s majority noted, as billions in unrecoverable compliance costs and fines will be incurred by employers, and many would lose their employment because of the OSHA vaccine mandate.

Three justices concur.  Justices Gorsuch, Thomas and Alito joined in a concurrence outlining the importance of the Constitutional principles governing governance itself as applied to the OSHA vaccine mandate.

Constitutional constraints.  The Constitution cabins legislative powers by requiring any exercise of federal legislative power to be tied to an enumerated Constitutional power, as powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, as is true of public health regulation. Congress cannot elide its limits by conferring legislative powers on executive agencies.  Thus, when an executive agency undertakes vast new measures, its authority to take such actions must be clear (the “major questions” doctrine) and may not be indirectly assumed (the “nondelegation” doctrine).  

Fie on a burgeoning bureaucracy. These concepts are not mere academic footnotes, the concurrence asserts, but they act as fundamental guards against “government of bureaucracy supplanting government of the people.”  Concurrence Slip Op. at 6, citing Scalia, A. A Note on the Benzene Case, American Enterprise Institute, J. on Govt. & Soc., July–Aug. 1980, p. 27. 

The vaccine mandate is not good by any measure. Application of these principles supports the Court’s stay.  OSHA can locate no clear congressional authorization for its actions, and even if one were believed to exist, the vaccine mandate would violate nondelegation principles, as such authority would confer upon OSHA unlimited discretion without any meaningful specific limits.

Three justices dissent. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan have dissented, opining that while examining the powers of coordinate branches, the Supreme Court has overstepped its limits as the majority has failed to recognize and to defer to agency expertise supporting the vaccine regulation, which regulation is of the very sort that OSHA exists to undertake.  

Up OSHA’s alley in any event. Workplace regulation is permissible even if similar hazards exist outside the workplace, and such regulation is apt where, as with the Covid-19 virus, workplace contagion is a recognized hazard which gravely threatens workers’ well-being.

The majority checks others’, but should also check itself. Although the majority focuses on the limits of legislative and executive powers, the majority fails to recognize that while executive agencies cannot act without legislative authorization, the Supreme Court may not read in or impose a limitation on agency action where none exists.  The Court has erred in issuing the stay, as the Court lacks the regulatory expertise that OSHA has.  Similarly, and also erroneously, the Court has incorrectly assessed the public interest served by OSHA’s undertaking measures to hinder the sickness and death the Covid-19 pandemic has precipitated. 

National Federation of Independent Business v. OSHA (01_13_2022)

Absent Administrative Notice and Comment, Amici Affected by the OSHA Vaccine Mandate Present Submissions to the U.S. Supreme Court Explaining Their Views


National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Department of Labor, No. 21A244,  consolidated with Ohio v. U.S. Department of Labor, No. 21A247. Oral Argument on  Applications for Emergency Stay of OSHA Vaccine Mandate set for Friday, January 7, 2022.

Biden v. Missouri, No. 21A240, consolidated with Becerra v. Louisiana, No. 21A241.  Oral Argument on Challenges to Stays of CMS Vaccine Mandate set for Friday, January 7, 2022. 


The principal parties will be heard on Friday, January 7, 2022 concerning whether the U.S. Supreme Court ought to intervene to stop the implementation of the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) mandating vaccination against the Covid-19 virus or testing/masking for all employers with more than one hundred employees.  Immediately thereafter, the Court will hear arguments concerning whether to dissolve stays imposed to halt the effect of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Rule requiring vaccination of health care workers in federally supported settings.

The parties are also seeking certiorari before judgment in their respective cases.  Whether the Court will reach that issue at the same time that it addresses preliminary relief is not known.

What is known is that just as vaccination has engendered controversy nationally, interest groups, advocates, elected leaders, former officials, and professional associations have seized the occasion to submit their views to the U.S. Supreme Court in amicus briefs.

In broad brush, proponents of a stay of the OSHA vaccine mandate argue that OSHA does not have the authority to implement such a measure.  In the absence of explicit Congressional delegation of authority, OSHA cannot act outside known statutory parameters without clearly articulated guidance.  In addition, proponents of a stay assert that OSHA has no public health authority, as that is a police power reserved to the states.  OSHA has no authority to act on an emergency basiss where no emergency exists.  To like effect, OSHA erred in failing to permit notice and comment concerning its proposed vaccine mandate, as no actual emergency presenting a grave danger that requires intervention and excuses notice and comment exist.  

Proponents of a stay of the OSHA vaccine mandate argue that vaccination is ineffective concerning transmission of the Covid-19 virus and that the ‘vaccination’ itself is actually a gene-modifying medical treatment. 

In addition to the sweep of the OSHA measure, the federal intrusion on constitutionally protected individual interests in both bodily integrity and consent to medical treatment are implicated, requiring a hard look in advance of implementation.  

Finally, and not insignificantly, one amicus suggests that the imposition of vaccination or testing and masking measures within workplaces will precipitate medical segregation, an adverse social consequence. 

Those who applaud the arrival of the OSHA mandate assert that the Covid-19 pandemic is the most deadly viral infection event in U.S. history and that the workplace is a petri dish for contamination, making vaccination or masking and testing a valid first line of defense.  Some amici fear that if the mandate is not implemented, the consequences will spill over to their businesses to dismal effect. 

Presented below are thumbnails of the various amicus submissions concerning the OSHA vaccine mandate.  While the CMS Rule requiring health care provider vaccination is of great importance, limitations of time and space prevent development of those arguments here. 

 


 

Advancing American Freedom in Support of Applications for Stay or Injunction Pending Review

Advancing American Freedom in Support of Applications for Stay or Injunction Pending Review

These advocates for traditional values oppose the encroachment of the federal judgment and the administrative state.  There are grave dangers inherent in governmental invocation of emergency measures, particularly where, as here, the vaccine mandate does not address an emergency but presents a “work around” to avoid the necessity of Congressional action and/or administrative notice and comment.  OSHA’s emergency powers are to be used sparingly, and even as such, only one survived judicial challenge.  


 

America’s Frontline Doctors as Amicus Curiae in Support of Applicant

America’s Frontline Doctors as Amicus Curiae in Support of Applicants

Member physicians do not believe the vaccines prevent the spread of Covid-19, and, as result, there exists no basis for segregation of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.  

The current vaccines are mischaracterized as such.  They are gene-modifying treatments that may reduce symptoms. 

The proper legal analysis should be derived from the strict scrutiny considerations of personal rights to refuse medical treatment.  The OSHA mandate would not survive such analysis, as it is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.  They do not inhibit contagion, and thus do not serve the arguably compelling state interest in public health.  And the vaccine mandate is not narrowly tailored as the treatments do not consider risk factors or natural immunity.  There is evidence that natural immunity confers a long term benefit and there are also newly developed treatments to assist in addressing the virus.  


 

American Medical Association, et al.as Amici in Opposition to Applications for Stay 

American Medical Association, et al. as Amici in Opposition to Applications for Stay

These established medical professional associations perceive a severe risk to public health through higher workplace transmissions.  Vaccination can reduce the risk of contraction of the virus, result in less severe cases of illness, and less contagion. 

Testing offers no greater protection than nothing at all.  Masking may be helpful, but is not as good as vaccination. 


 

American Public Health Association, et al. as Amici in Support of Respondents

American Public Health Association, et al. as Amici in Support of Respondents

Public health associations observe that airborne viruses make the workplace particularly hazardous.  Covid-19 mortality is higher for in-person workers.  

Vaccination provides some insulation against transmission.  Moreover, vaccination diminishes transmission and therefore, mutation. 


 

Center for Medical Freedom, et al. as Amici in Support of Applicants

Center for Medical Freedom, et al. as Amici in Support of Applicants

Conservative groups opine that the vaccine mandate is”exactly what the Framers most feared when they established the federal government:  a raw exercise of arbitrary power.”  (Amicus Brief, p. 3).  

OSHA is a child of the commerce clause. There is no authority to regulate anything i the absence of commerce, and the impact of inaction on commerce is not a valid premise for commerce clause legislation.  

Reliance on Jacobson is misplaced, a statue measure was in issue there and as more than a century of subsequent law has been amassed, placing Jacobson’s vitality in question, and this is particularly so where Jacobson was conceived during the ascendancy of the eugenics movement. 

Justice Gorsuch has already rejected Jacobson as a premise for emergency extra-constitutional federal health measures.  

There is no federal police power that would support a vaccine mandate.  

Moreover, the premics of the mandate is flawed, as it is false to say the unvaccinated cause the pandemic.

Death attributable to the Covid-19 vaccines, which are ene therapy, suggest the vaccines themselves present substantial hazards.  

Separation of powers principles caution against implementation of the sort the OSHA vaccine mandate contemplates. 


 

Constitutional Accountability Center as Amicus Curiae in Opposition to Applications for Stay or Injunction Pending Review

Constitutional Accountability Center as Amicus Curaie in Opposition to Applications for Stay 

This progressive think tank and advocacy center submits that delegation with intelligible, principled guidance is appropriate, and that here that intelligible and principled guidance is found in the directive that OSHA may issue emergency orders where necessary to address a grave danger.  

Just because a measure is broad, this does not mean it is unintelligible.  Where such guidance has been provided, there should be no second-guessing agency action. 


 

Defending the Republic in Support of Emergency Applications for Stay or Injunction Pending Certiorari

Defending the Republic as Amicus Support Applications for Stay

Defending the Republic is engaged in challenging the vaccine mandate applicable to the Department of Defense, arguing that the mandate presents unconstitutional infringements on religious freedoms and the right to refuse medical treatment. 

The vaccine mandates represent unprecedented federal usurpations of power.  Nearly the entirety of the adult federal workforce is being conscripted to receive an experimental and irreversible medical treatment.  


 

Former OSHA Administrators Charles Jeffress, David Michaels, and Gerard Scannell as Amici in Opposition to Emergency Applications for Stay(or Injunction) Pending Certiorari Review

Former OSHA Administrators in Opposition to Applications for Stay

Three former Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials oppose a stay of the OSHA vaccine mandate, as it would impede implementation of measures intended to stop Covid-19.  

OSHA may regulate exposure to workplace hazards, including communicable disease, and may develop measures for immunization with religious exemptions.  OSHA can include the impact of workplace hazards on families, and has responded to concerns with bloodborne illnesses, hazardous waste, and respiratory conditions.  

Where the Secretary acts within statutory authorization, Chevon deference should be the norm.  

Simply because a condition exists outside the workplace does not mean that OSHA cannot address the condition within the workplace.  


 

IU Family for Choice, Not Mandates, Inc. in Support of Applicants

IU Family for Choice, Not Mandates, Inc. in Support of Applicants

An Indiana university coalition advocates for medical autonomy within the university community.  The group supports freedom of choice and opposes medical segregation or discrimination regarding access to education, employment, housing and community events.  

Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent infection and transmission.  The vaccines are better considered to be medical treatments ameliorating more serious aspects of Covid-19, but they are not a public health measure.  

OSHA does not have the authority to require unwanted medical treatment.  It is noteworthy that the Centers for Disease Control changed the definition of”vaccine” to conform to Covid-19 therapeutics. 

The OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard violates principles of bioethics concerning autonomy and choice in medical treatment.  

OSHA does not have police powers.  The states, not federal agencies, have police powers and those police powers are bound by the Constitution.  

OSHA cannot force the test/vaccine choice on the employee and pre-enforcement review requires a ‘harder look’ at such a measure.  Rigorous scrutiny is required where medical autonomy and consent are in issue.

Jacobson does not apply here because the OSHA mandate concerns a medical treatment, not a public health measure.  

A personal decision to refuse a medical treatment does not create a risk to others to whom disease might spread.  Refusal only impacts the person who refuses. 

The presupposition that vaccines would slow the spread of disease is in error.  


 

Jason Feliciano and the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers as Amicus in Support of Applications for Stay or Injunction

Jason Feliciano and the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers as Amicus in Support of Applications for Stay or Injunction

The individual and organizational amici provide credentialing for chaplains in the military.  The organization exists to promote religious free exercise.  

Amicus objects to the OSHA vaccine mandate as it is not a true vaccine, as the overwhelming survival rate of persons with Covid-19 infections suggests that there is no grave hazard, and as the mandate fails to consider religious concerns. OSHA does not have authority to impose measures where there is no hazard.  This is particularly problematic where the proposed measure does not inhibit transmission or contraction of the Covid-19 virus and associated illness.  Moreover, the fact that the Centers for Disease Control changed the definition of ‘vaccine’ to include the current injections is problematic.  

Those who resist vaccination are subject to punishment, either in the form of loss of their livelihoods, or, if masking and testing is chosen, in the form of fines, as the individual employee must bear the not insignificant costs of testing.  Further, testing does not provide valid information about contagion and thus is not helpful in curbing disease transmission, and a distinction between testing unvaccinated versus vaccinated individuals makes no sense, as both unvaccinated and vaccinated persons can transmit the Covid-19 virus.

Finally, the social costs of the vaccine mandate are difficult to calculate, as the mandate may usher in an era of medical segregation in which the vaccinated obtain a status superior to those who are not vaccinated.  


 

Liberty, Life and Law Foundation as Amicus in Support of Applicants

Liberty, Life and Law Foundation as Amicus in Support of Applicants

Concerned with constitutional liberties in the context of expanding federal powers, amicus foundation asserts that Jacobson was not a blank check.  Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905).  Congress must use especially clear language where, as here, Congress intends to upset the balance between federal and state powers.

Emergencies cannot be pretexts for denials of civil liberties and usurpation of powers.  The measures in issue raise concerns about bodily integrity, informed consent, and refusal of medical treatment.  

Jacobson was a narrow ruling which recognized the potential for government overreach.  Current analysis should require a compelling government interest.  Even if a compelling government interest could be found, the government has not chosen the least intrusive means of serving that interest.  


 

Local Unions 1249 and 97 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Support of Emergency Applications for a Stay Pending Certiorari Review  

Local Unions 1249 and 97 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Support of Emergency Applications for a Stay Pending Certiorari Review 

The electrical workers’ unions think that unvaccinated members should not be forced to choose between vaccination and supporting their families.  The vaccine mandate is well outside OSHA’s traditional bailiwick.

Unions can work with management quite effectively to develop Covid-19 policy.  Particularly as the virus and infections will change over time, it is preferable to allow for hands on negotiation rather than to accept top-down demands. 

Traditionally, OSHA does not regulate employers and employees.  Here, there are significant personal cost consequences to employees and a demand that employees subite to an irreversible medical procedure that affects the individual both when working and when not working. 

Although it is true that a hazard need not be solely a workplace hazard for regulation to be proper, the federal government does not routinely impose costs on employees.  


 

Members of Congress as Amici Curiae in Support of Applicants

Members of Congress as Amici Curiae in Support of Applicants

One hundred eighty three members of both houses of Congress fer the disregard of separation of powers principles that th eOSHA vaccine mandate represents.  Congress has not authorized OSHA’s action:  theser exist no deletion of power nor an intelligible principle to support delegation of power to OSHA.  Public health care does not fall within OSHA”s emergency powers, yet OSHA wants to expand those powers outside the workplace.  There is no grave danger that OSHA might address nor is a virus a toxic or hazardous agent as contemplated in the OSHA act.  

The vaccine mandate lacks the ‘necessity’ the OSHA statute requires and the measure itself does not inhibit contagion and contamination.  A rule that does nothing to address a (non-extant) grave danger is not a measure that is “necessary,” as the OSHA statute contemplates.

Equally problematic is the absence of any limiting principles application to ASHA’s actions, which gives rise to non-delegation concerns.  The purpose of reducing the number of unvaccinated individuals on its face exceeds OSHA”s jurisdiction to regulate some workplace safety concerns.  And even if there were authority to act, the failure of Congress to state clearly the principles to guide OSHA causes ‘major questions’ doctrine problems as the vaccine mandate upsets the federal – state power balance. 


 

National Disability Rights Network and the Judge David L. Bazelon Mental Health Law Center as Amici in Opposition to Applications for Stay 

National Disability Rights Network and the Judge David L. Bazelon Mental Health Law Center as Amici in Opposition to Applications for Stay 

Advocates for the physically and mentally disabled support the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard because, they assert, the physically and mentally disapbled are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 workplace infection, and face higher mortality rates if they are infected.  Those who refuse vaccination or refusing masking and testing present a new workplace hazard.   Studies suggest that the Emergency Temporary Standard is a necessary measure in mitigation.  Enjoying the Emergency Temporary Standard would disproportionately affect medically vulnerable and disabled persons. 


 

National Employment Lawyers Association and Jobs with Justice Education Fund in Opposition to Emergency Applications for a Stay or Injunction Pending Review

National Employment Lawyers Association and Jobs with Justice Education Foundation Amicus Brief

Acceptance of petitioners’ arguments would open many existing workplace regulations to challenge.

If workers are given a liberty interest superseding federal regulatory powers, then workers may refuse to work. 

The federal government has regulated workplaces in the past, i.e., with drug testing, permitting physical qualifications for work, mandating retirement, and regulating the use of hard hats or the advisability of beards.

With respect to major questions, judicial line drawing between major and minor issues is not committed to the judicial branch.

Petitioners’ Commerce Clause argument would invalidate all federal employment legislation.  It is well established that federal regulation may be applied to noneconomic activity with economic consequences.  


 

Small Business Majority, et al. in Opposition to Emergency Applications for Stay or Injunction Pending Certiorari

Small Business Majority, et al. in Opposition to Emergency Applications for Stay or Injunction Pending Certiorari

Small businesses fear that a stay will cause them to lose the protections that would flow from large businesses’ compliance with the OSHA vaccine mandate.  As some states have interfered with eemployers’ efforts to require vaccination, federal intervention is needed.  


 

Standard Process, Inc. in Support of Emergency Application for Administrative Stay, Stay, and Alternative Petition for Stay Certiorari Before Judgment

Standard Process Inc. as Amicus in Support of Stay and Certiorari Before Judgment

This whole food nutritional supplementation manufacturer fears that the OSHA vaccine mandate will precipitate mass employee resignations,and that, owing to Standard Process’s rural location, those employees will not be replaced.

Testing is not accessible in the way that the government would like to believe.  Equally importantly, employer compliance costs are extraordinary and are neither private nor self-contained.  

In all, the vaccine mandate needlessly undermines both private and public interests. 


 

Texas Values, et al. as Amici n Support of Applicants

Texas Values, et al. as Amici in Support of Applicants

States’ ‘family values” policy advocates object to widespread regulation of employees without notice and comment and without proper concern for religious exercise.  The administrative state is particularly prone to disregarding religious liberty. OSHA has taken the position that employees’ religious interests are outside OSHA’s purview, but even with their ‘proper’ administrative nice, those concerns do not receive fair treatment, as employers may disregard religious concerns where addressing them would require more than de minimis costs.  The public has been denied a voice in the development of this sweeping measure, a measure which lies outside OSHA’s statutory authority.  


 

Tore Says LLC in Support of Petitioners

Tore Says LLC as Amicus in Support of Petitioners

This multimedia news outlet focuses on the thinking of the founding fathers with particular concern for the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Corporations have constitutional rights, and ought to be free from government intrusion, as the government has only those rights which are granted to it by the people.  The Ninth Amendment guarantees against federal intrusion and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees against state intrusion. 

Because of the Ninth Amendment, there is no authority for the government intrusion that the vaccine mandate represents, but even if there were such a power to intrude, that power would be reserved to the states.  

Public health traditionally is entrusted to the states.  No federal police power exist to support the board exercise of federal powers in issue here.  


 

Washington Legal Foundation in Support of Applicants 

Washington Legal Foundation in Support of Applicants

This foundation supports free enterprise, individual rights, limited government, and the rule of law.  The vaccine mandates are causing supply chain issues and rising prices.  The vaccine mandate is not within OSHA’s authority but if it were notice and comment would be needed, not an emergency measure implemented outside ordinary procedure.  

The mandate presente employees with a forced choice between vaccination,testing, or losing employment.  

The emergency measure is odd in that in June, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit observed that OSHA need not issue a mandate.  This is all the more curious because the nation is more than one year, and closer to two years, beyond the inception of the pandemic, and the government wants to use an ‘emergency’ measure.

This is a fitting case for granting certiorari before judgment, given the time constraints presented by the Emergency Temporary Standard, which will expire by its terms in six months.  


 

We the Patriots USA in Support of Emergency Applications for Stay or Injunction Pending Review and for Certiorari Before Judgment

We the Patriots USA in Support of Emergency Applications for Stay or Injunction Pending Review and for Certiorari Before Judgment

This group defines itself as promoting constitutional rights and offers that the vaccine mandate represents the largest disruption of personal choice and bodily integrity in history.  

Since Jacobson, substantive due process rights have developed in recognition of individual fundamental unenumerated rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.  

Tiers of tests for unenumerated rights have been inconsistently applied, sometimes utilizing strict scrutiny, and sometimes not, depending on whether bodily integrity or self-determination is in issue.  Abortion is recognized as a fundamental right, while refusal of medical treatment requires balancing of personal and state interests, with the scales favoring the state.  This uneven treatment of similar questions needs to be addressed.  

The vaccination or testing/masking alternatives are not true alternatives because the costs of testing, which must be borne by employees, are so prohibitive that the average employee is forced to submit to vaccination.  

The Commerce Clause concerns economic issues only and is not concerned with non-economic public health activity, which belongs to the states.  

It is not proper to characterize any skepticism concerning the vaccines as an “anti-vax” position.  The reliance on inconsistent statements of “experts” about Covid-19 is of great concern.  

The OSHA vaccine mandate is a major question because mandatory medical treatment for vast portions of the population is a major political and economic question.

State power to administer public health measures should be retained.  The regulation of containment and remediation of viral transmission is a state matter, but in any case the regulation of a virus is not a regulation of activity within the Commerce Clause.

Upholding the vaccine mandate would open the door to unprecedented federal regulation of public health questions.  

Stay of OSHA Covid-19 Private Employer Vaccine Mandate Dissolved:  Sixth Circuit Panel Finds Employers Failed to Meet Standard for Granting Stay


In re:  MCP No. 165, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Interim Final Rule; Covid-19 Vaccination and Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard 86 Fed. Reg. 61402. No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.). Order dissolving Fifth Circuit stay entered December 17, 2021.


The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is now administering consolidated litigation from all federal circuits relating to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)  issued November 5, 2021.

The Emergency Temporary Standard  mandates that employers with more than one hundred employees require that employees be vaccinated against Covid-19 or be tested frequently and masked.  

On December 17, a three-member panel of judges of the Sixth Circuit dissolved the stay of the ETS entered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals prior to multi-district litigation consolidation.  

Two of the three judges have published an opinion providing  a point-by-point refutation of the Fifth Circuit’s views  One judge has written a separate concurrence.  A third has dissented.  

No stealing bases. It appears that the courts may be experiencing ’emergency’ fatigue, and even if this is not so, skipping procedural steps has been discouraged. Earlier in the week the Sixth Circuit denied motions for initial review en banc.  This will serve to inhibit the litigants in seeking immediate review in the U.S. Supreme Court prior to seeking rehearing en banc and could aid the Supreme Court, if such immediate review is nonetheless sought, in remanding the case to the federal appellate court for further proceedings.  

          In procedurally unrelated but topically similar litigation, the United States Supreme Court has denied a petition to stay New York’s vaccine mandate pending review of a petition for certiorari which argues that New York’s failure to provide for religious exemption from vaccination violates the First Amendment.

The Opinion in the Multidistrict Litigation.  The Sixth Circuit perceives the Covid-19 virus to be an ongoing causative agent, one which has killed people and shut down the economy, which prompted employers to seek guidance from the Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), which in turn, on November 5, 2021, issued an Emergency Temporary Standard requiring certain employers to require employee vaccination or face covering and frequent testing.

          The Fifth Circuit enjoined implementation of the ETS the day after it was issued.  The court affirmed its decision a week later.

          The Sixth Circuit now observes that OSHA may issue emergency orders bypassing public notice and comment proceedings where grave danger requires employee protection.

          The OSHA emergency measure does not require employee vaccination, the court has found, as employees may be masked and tested or work from home, but employers must maintain vaccination records or face penalties. 

The Sixth Circuit panel has examined the four established evaluative factors to be considered in staying any measure before litigation.

Petitioners’ Likelihood of Success on the Merits.

          Authority for OSHA’s Action Exists.  Contrary to the Fifth Circuit’s determination, the Sixth Circuit perceives that OSHA may regulate infectious diseases within its statutory authority. 

          The “major questions” doctrine cited by the Fifth Circuit is an interpretive tool permitting exception from deference to agency authority, but it is vague and it is in any case inapplicable where agency authority has not been expanded, the court has explained.  

          Same emergency, different authority. The OSHA Covid-19 employer mandate can be distinguished from the eviction moratorium declared unconstitutional earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Centers for Disease Control lacks authority to regulate landlord-tenant relations, as the Supreme Court has found, but here, the Sixth Circuit panel has concluded, OSHA has established authority to regulate workplace safety.

          Moreover, OSHA gathered evidence substantiating its conclusion that an emergency exists.  The Sixth Circuit declined to find that any necessity permitting emergency intervention by OSHA be universal or absolute, but rather found that the persistence of workplace issues prompted issuance of the emergency temporary standard as the last arrow in the Secretary of Labor’s quiver. 

          The federal appellate judges dismissed attacks on the OSHA measure as over or under inclusive, finding that the efficacy of a measure, particularly an emergency measure, need not be perfectly calibrated or accompanied by a cost-benefit analysis.

          The panel dismissed the notion embraced by the Fifth Circuit that the OSHA mandate is in violation of the Commerce Clause, and impact on interstate commerce, such as viral contagion, is sufficient to establish a basis for federal law and federal preemption. 

          The Sixth Circuit judges found the non-delegation doctrine to be somewhat musty and in any case inapposite where it is well established that Congress may delegate to executive branch powers to act in the public interest or to protect public health. 

Whether Irreparable Harm Will Befall Petitioners in the Absence of a Stay. 

The Sixth Circuit explored the irreparable harm issue notwithstanding its view that its analysis of the petitioners’ assertions and arguments fail to demonstrate the likelihood of success on the merits, which could have ended the inquiry because the public interest analysis merges with the likelihood of success on the merits analysis where the government is a party.

The judges dismissed as “speculative” employers’ views of compliance cost, including loss of workers, and noted that if cited for non-compliance, an employer can always assert the impossibility of compliance as a defense.  The potential harm to the public of failure to implement Covid-19 contagion mitigation measures such as the OSHA employer mandate, in light of the harms already incurred by the nation, are staggering, and the risks to the public are only underscored where petitioners have not shown that they are likely to prevail on  the merits.  

Note well:  this panel’s opinion may not be within the judiciary’s bailiwick.

In a separate concurrence, Circuit Judge Gibbons has written to emphasize his view that the judicial branch ought not be as active in policy questions as this litigation has demanded.  The judge notes that questions of what the other branches might have done differently or “sweeping pronouncements” about constitutional law, themselves “untethered” to the present case, invite the judicial branch to exceed its limits.  Separation of powers principles preclude judicial second-guessing of coordinate branches.  Where a court concludes that an agency has acted within its authority and within constitutional bounds, the judge opined, the court ought not press further into realms committed to other branches’ expertise.  

Au Contraire:  Dissenting Judge Opines that Panel Analysis is Wrong

The dissenting member of the panel thinks the question of constitutional and statutory authority is squarely within the power of the judiciary.

The dissent wholly disagrees with the view that the OSHA emergency measure permits employers to decide how to manage workplace Covid-19 risks.  Employers must adopt written policies, demand that employees be vaccinated unless exempt, and pay employees who need time off to get vaccinated.  The mask and testing alternative was, by OSHA’s own admission, designed to be unpalatable as by its operation it imposes costs of testing on employers.

The dissent observes that it is not necessary that petitioners demonstrate a likelihood of success on each and every one of its theories in order to substantiate the need for a stay:  the potential to prevail on one theory would suffice.

Petitioners can demonstrate a likelihood of success, the dissent has concluded, because OSHA has exceeded its authority, which limits the promulgation of emergency measures to circumstances in which employees face grave danger and the emergency intervention is necessary to protect employees.

Where OSHA never made a finding that its rule was necessary, the rule cannot be upheld:  the insufficiency of extant measures, which is the justification offered by the Secretary of Labor, will.not meet the “necessary” standard. 

Moreover, effectiveness is a separate question that cannot be bootstrapped into a determination of necessity.

The dissenting justice rejects the notion that emergency measures, by their very nature, need not be as carefully crafted or supported as normative acts, and this is particularly so where OSHA has had nearly two years to consider protections and to evaluate alternatives.  Where no showing of necessity can be made, the emergency measure cannot be sustained.

Of similar concern is that the Secretary failed to locate a “grave danger” that would support the private employer vaccine mandate.  Although viral infection can be dangerous, there is no evidence showing that contracting the disease is a grave threat, as available data show varying levels of risk among different demographics.

There is no evidence linking contraction of Covid-19 to the workplace.  Those who are already vaccinated are not, by and large, imperiled.  Where a mortality rate of one in two hundred and two cases of infection is said to exist among the unvaccinated, OSHA has not met the “grave danger” requirement, particularly where no link to workplace harm has been shown.  

The dissent questions the panel’s minimization of the substance of the “major questions” concerns petitioners raise where OSHA has never issued an emergency measure of the scope of the Covid-19 employer mandate and, the dissent observes, the question is not simply one of the kind of measure OSHA may implement, but also its scope or degree (emphasis in text). 

Given the Supreme Court’s discussion of the “major questions” doctrine in declaring the CDC eviction moratorium to be invalid, it is not accurate to say, as this panel has, that the “major questions” doctrine is an arcane exception to deference to agency expertise.  

Finally, OSHA’s circumspection in other contexts supports similar caution here, and does not support promulgation of an expensive and unparalleled emergency measure.

Employers will be hamstrung by the costs of compliance and by the potential loss of employees that may ensue.  Similarly problematic is the loss that will result to individuals who submit to vaccination only to learn later, as they may,  that the command to do so was not supported in law. 

The dissent points out that OSHA cannot complain that petitioners have not substantiated their claims where by invoking emergency authority OSHA foreclosed the opportunity for notice and comment that would permit submission of evidence for agency consideration.  


Opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Dissolving Stay of OSHA Mandate

In re. MCP No. 165. Sixth Circuit Order December 17, 2021

Correspondence and Opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Denying Initial Hearing En Banc

In re. MCP No. 165, Sixth Circuit Order December 15, 2021

Order of the U.S. Supreme Court Denying Injunctive Relief with Dissenting Opinion

21A145 Dr. A v. Hochul, No. 21A 145 Order and Dissenting Opinion December 13, 2021

Federal Court Enjoins Enforcement of Mandated COVID-19 Vaccination of Healthcare Workers, Observing Not Only Authoritative and Procedural Deficiencies in CMS Order But Also Likelihood that Enforcement Would Exacerbate Crisis in Healthcare Access


Missouri, et al. v. Biden, et al., No. 4:21-cv-01329 (E.D. Mo.)  Order and Opinion entered November 29, 2021.

Missouri, et al. v. Biden, et al., No. 4:21-cv-01329 (E.D. Mo.) Defendants’ Notice of Appeal filed November 30, 2021.


The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri has enjoined the federal government from implementing mandated COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare providers and other workers associated with facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid support.  The United States has filed a notice of appeal from the injunction ordered on November 29th.

The federal trial court observes that the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), lacks Congressional authority for the actions it has taken, which because of its sweep would require explicit and clear authority if it authority could be delegated at all in light of the federalism question that the federal intrusion on private citizens’ health care decisions and the disruption of federal-state balance that the vaccine mandate present.  

Moreover, CMS erred in abandoning notice and requirement provisions, as no excuse for having done so, including any alleged emergency, can be found.

Of particular significance to the court is not merely the shift from encouraging to demanding vaccination of healthcare workers and the application of a one-size-fits-all policy without respect to the institution involved but also the threat to access to care that the mandate provides.

Provider institutions already face a shortage in workers that began before but has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. As mandated vaccination may precipitate additional worker shortages, which in turn will impact access to care, the court agrees that the threat of harm to the public because of mandated vaccination merits injunctive relief.

Missouri, et al. v. Biden, et al., No. 4:21-cv-01329 (E.D. Mo.) Order and Opinion November 29, 2021

Missouri, et al. v. Biden, et al., No. 4:21-cv-01329 (E.D. Mo.) Notice of Appeal filed November 30, 2021

Litigation Contagion:  With Thirteen Vaccine Mandate Petitions Consolidated in the Sixth Circuit, OSHA Seeks Emergency Dissolution of Stay Entered by Fifth Circuit


Memoranda concerning the stay of the vaccine mandate, entered by the Fifth Circuit and consolidated in the Sixth Circuit, are due on November 30, with responses due December 7th and replies due December 10.  At this posting, no action has been taken on the government’s motion to expedite briefing.


All together now. With multidistrict litigation underway in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seeks emergency dissolution of the stay of the Emergency Temporary Standard (the “Vaccine Mandate”) entered by the United States Court #v Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  Some petitioners object to the administration proceeding on an emergency basis, while others ask that the Sixth Circuit transfer all the proceedings to the Fifth Circuit.

Nationwide Vaccination or Testing Required of Certain Employers Stayed. The OSHA Vaccine Mandate, which requires employers of 100 or more employees to require employee vaccination or testing concerning Covid-19 or face significant fines, which would by its terms take effect on December 6, 2021, was stayed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on November 12, 2021.  

Ruling on retention, modification, or dissolution of the stay front and center. The Sixth Circuit, to which all petitions in twelve federal circuits were transferred by order of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, has invited briefing on whether the stay ought to be vacated, amended, or extended.  The federal respondents seek dissolution of the stay on an emergency basis.  Several petitioners seek initial hearing en banc before the federal appellate court.

Constitutional concerns about a measure said to be for the common good.  The Fifth Circuit entered a stay of the Vaccine Mandate based on its perception that the Vaccine Mandate is a sweeping national measure that presents grave constitutional concerns.  In ordering the halt of the mandate, the appellate court, among other determinations, found no statutory authority with which OSHA could create such a measure.  In the absence of explicit authority from Congress, the federal agency exceeded its statutory as well as Commerce Clause powers and encroached on public health rights reserved to the states.  Where OSHA has no authority, in the Fifth Circuit’s view, to regulate a hazard that is not confined to the workplace, OSHA cannot dictate the behavior of individuals using employers as a conduit.

Emergency action is necessary to address potentially lethal health consequences. OSHA argues that the Covid-19 virus has killed hundreds of thousands of people and that OSHA”s gathering of evidence supporting requiring vaccination is empirically sound, and that OSHA”s findings ought not be disturbed by the courts.  The federal government asserts that authority for monitoring contagious diseases was established decades ago with respect to blood-borne pathogens.

Employers hamstrung by compliance, particularly where resistant employees threaten to quit if vaccination required.  Opposing employers resist the government’s position that employers’ estimates of the costs of vaccine compliance are speculative.  Employers resent the government’s determination to proceed on an emergency basis before the Sixth Circuit has developed a comprehensive case management order or ruled on several pending motions for initial review en banc.  

Mandate’s impact not confined to employers and employees Employers stress that the impact of the vaccine mandate, if permitted to take effect, will force employees to choose between their work or their personal autonomy before the year end holidays.  As many essential workers are involved, the impact of the mandate will be felt by the public at large, as goods and services will not be manufactured and provided as planned.

Get litigation back to where it once belonged. While acknowledging that the Sixth Circuit has shown deference to the Fifth Circuit, some petitioners seek transfer of the consolidated multidistrict litigation to the Fifth Circuit, which has, it is argued,  already acquainted itself with the issues in the time sensitive vaccine mandate cases  

JustLawful Note:  Few would dispute that the reach of the vaccination mandate is historic, and it is hardly speculative to believe that the matter will reach the United States Supreme Court, nor is it unreasonable to think that the Sixth Circuit will promptly address the motions now before it. 


Case Materials

BST Holdings, et al. v. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, et al., No. 21-60845 (5th Cir.).  Opinion and Order November 12, 2021.

BST Holdings et al v. OSHA, No. 21-60845 (5th Cir.) Order November 12, 2021

In re. MCP No. 165:  OSHA Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.).  Docket as of November 28, 2021.

In re. MCP No. 165,, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.) Docket as of November 28, 2021

In re:  Occupational Safety and Health Administration Interim Final Rule:  COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing:  Emergency Temporary Standard, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, Issued November 4, 2021.  United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, MCP No. 165.  Consolidation Order, November 18, 2021.

In re: Occupational Safety and Health Administration Interim Final Rule: COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing: Emergency Temporary Standard, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, Issued November 4, 2021. United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, MCP No. 165. Consolidation Order, November 18, 2021.

Phillips Manufacturing and Tower Company, et al. v. U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, No. 21-4028 (6th Cir.) Petition for Initial Hearing en Banc, November 17, 2021.

Phillips Manufacturing and Tower v. OSHA, No. 21-4028 (6th Cir.) Petition for Initial Hearing en Banc, November 17, 2021

In re. MCP No. 165:  OSHA Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.). Initial Case Management Order, November 21, 2021.

Initial Case Management Order In re MCP No. 165 OSHA Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing

In re. OSHA Rule on Covid-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61401, No. 21-4018, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.) Respondents’ Emergency Motion to Dissolve Stay, November 23, 2021.

In re OSHA Rule on Covid-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61401, No. 21-4018, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.). Respondents’ Emergency Motion to Dissolve Stay, November 23, 2021

In re. OSHA Rule on Covid-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61401, No. 21-4018, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.).  Respondents’ Motion to Amend Schedule for Stay Briefing and to Set Schedule for Merits Briefing, November 24, 2021

In re OSHA Rule on Covid-19, Respondents Motion to Amend Schedule for Stay Briefing, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.) November 24, 2021

In re. MCP No. 165:  OSHA Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.). Job Creators’ Network, et al. v. OSHA, et al.  Opposition to Respondents’ Emergency Motion to Dissolve Stay, November 23, 2021.

In re OSHA Rule on Covid-19 Vaccination and Testing, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.) Job Creators’ Network et al. Opposition to Emergency Motion to Dissolve Stay, November 23, 2021

In re. MCP No. 165:  OSHA Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.). Motion to Transfer by BST Holdings, et al., November 23, 2021

In re. MCP No. 165:  OSHA Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.). Motion to Transfer by BST Holdings, et al., November 23, 2021

In re. MCP No. 165:  OSHA Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.). Motion to Hold in Abeyance Government’s Emergency Motion to Dissolve Stay, November 23, 2021

In re MCP 165 OSHA Rule on Vaccination and Testing, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.) Motion to Hold in Abeyance Government’s Emergency Motion to Dissolve Stay

In re. MCP No. 165:  OSHA Rule on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.).  Order, November 23, 2021.

In re MCP 165, No. 21-7000 (6th Cir.) Order November 23, 2021

A Vaccination Compliance Cauldron: Ten States Insist Federal Covid-19 Healthcare Providers’ Mandate Is Constitutionally, Statutorily, and Procedurally Unsound

Missouri, et al. v. Biden, et al., No. 21-cv-01329 (E.D. Mo.). Complaint filed November 20, 2021.


Ten states have joined in challenging the action of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in promulgating an Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (IFC) that conditions health care providers’ receipt of federal funding and reimbursement on employee or contractor vaccination against COVID-19.  

Providers and Employees Threatened. Health care providers whose employees fail to comply with the federally mandated demand that all health care workers be vaccinated against Covid-19 may lose federal funding,   As vaccination refusal will threaten employer compliance with the federal measure, unvaccinated employees may lose their jobs.

Exacerbation, Not Mitigation.  The states submit that this sweeping federal incursion on health care administration threatens to exacerbate an already extant crisis in health care provision, which crisis only deepened during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing states to undertake drastic measures to ameliorate the deadly synergies of two crises which individually would have sufficed to cause health care services to crater. 

          To the extant shortage of workers and threat of harm from viral infection the federal government has added a compliance burden that, the states contend, violates the interests of the states, the healthcare providers and entities within the states, and the healthcare workers who must submit to vaccination or face termination. 

State Standing.  Having brought their complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, the states and their attorneys general assert standing premised on exercise of parens patriae powers or statutory authorizations. 

Effective Immediately.  The Interim Final Rule, also called  the CMS vaccine mandate, became effective on publication on publication in the Federal Register on November 5th.  Its protocol demands at least partial vaccination compliance by the first week of December, a deadline that only compounds the problems the rule has caused, the states note.  

          Most significantly, the states argue, the Interim Final Rule is not merely factually detrimental to the provision of health care services, the rule itself and the manner in which the rule was crafted is in violation of central components of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and the United States Constitution.

The CMS Vaccine Mandate Makes Matters Worse.  The complaining states assert that the sweeping federal incursion on providers’ rights will exacerbate and extant shortage of workers.  The federal scheme is an unconstitutional abridgment of rights traditionally reserved to the states, and is not only legally flawed but also is, as a practical matter, administratively disastrous, as the health care needs of densely populated urban areas are markedly varied from those of rural settings.  

The CMS vaccine mandate must be set aside.  The states ask that the federal court declare the CMS vaccine rule be declared invalid constitutionally and in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and other statutes, and that its enforcement be enjoined.

Not an overnight development.  Healthcare workforce shortages predate the COVID-19 pandemic by decades, the states recount.  Nursing shortages, already critical, have been made all the more so by the demands for urgent and other care precipitated by the pandemic. Many nursing professionals feel they cannot continue to work as they have been.  Many have been attracted to positions offering better working conditions are higher compensation. 

          Staffing shortages threaten the capacity of hospitals to administer care.  To address pandemic care needs, states relaxed standards for the provision of services, permitted workers to work without vaccination, and expanded telehealth services.

          The states are critical of the implementation of the administrative rule per see where doing so represents and Executive Branch about face from federal non-involvement in vaccination to a nationwide push for COVID-19 vaccination compliance that threatens workers with loss of employment and provider entities with loss of available federal funding.   

Reaching beyond providers.  Where health care workers cannot work, providers will be unable to provide services, and the patient public will be denied care.  Each of these outcomes, the states observe, is contrary to sound policies of health care delivery.

A diverse panoply of providers under a single rubric.   There are fifteen categories of Medicare and Medicaid providers, encompassing urban and rural clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies. 

          CMS reports that nearly all hospitals within the United States are connected in some measure to Medicare and Medicaid.  Although CMS has recognized the diverse purposes and practices of these categories of providers and suppliers, CMS has embroidered on all covered providers and suppliers the measures applicable to long-term care facilities, the states observe. 

          Moreover, CMS appears to recognize the adverse consequences of the vaccine mandate:  failure to comply will threaten health care workers with loss of employment, which in turn will deepen an already critical worker shortage, which in turn will impact access to care.

No comment.  The states point out that there has never before been a federal vaccination mandate, and that the newly-effective rule is unsound on multiple grounds.  The states notes that CMS abandoned the comment period ordinarily required for rules of the magnitude of the unprecedented healthcare vaccine mandate.  Moreover, CMS has failed to locate with accuracy its authority to promulgate the vaccine mandate.

Unauthorized rule-making. The states argue that there is no statutory authority for the CMS vaccine mandate, and that none of the authorities cited by the CMS as authorizing the mandate do so.  This legally unsupported rule will cause the states great economic harm, particularly as states will not only be threatened with loss of federal resources but the states’ own administrative resources have been conscripted to serve the federal government. 

Hindsight unavailing.  The states submit that the CMS has relied on post-hoc rationalizations to support the rule, an impermissible approach which renders the measure arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law. 

Constitutionally intrusive.  The states argue that compulsory vaccination is traditionally a power reserved to the states.  The federal expansion of power over the states violates the Tenth Amendment, the states submit.

Doctrinally unsound.  The states argue that the CMS vaccine mandate is unsound as it is a measure of national breadth and depth that is not supported by clear Congressional directive, and thus runs afoul of the major questions doctrine.   Similarly, the co of a Congressional articulation of an intelligible guiding principle, the CMS vaccine rule violates principles of non-delegation.

Outside professional bounds.  The states observe that the CMS vaccine mandate is precluded by the Social Security Act, which forbids supervision or control over the practice and provision of medicine and medical services.

Procedurally flawed.  The states submit that the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) is not inaptly named, and that no sound excuse exists for CMS’ failure to adhere to notice and comment procedures which permit interested persons’ participation in administrative processes.  

          CMS not only failed to adhere to these processes but its rule became effective on publication with initial compliance to be completed within thirty days.  Additionally, CMS failed to comply with the sixty-day pre-publication requirement of the Social Security Act.  

Input not sought.  CMS failed to confer with the states concerning the mandate as it is required to do.

Unconstitutional conditions imposed.   The federal government may not impose conditions on funding unrelated to the programs impacted or without notice to the states that vaccination would be required in order to obtain federal funds.  

State resources conscripted.  In enacting measures which threaten providers’ finances through demands on employees, the states observe that is is an infringement on state powers for the federal government to demand that state administrative resources be expended in service of federal aims.

Declaratory and injunctive relief sought: looking forward. The states have requested declaratory and injunctive relief which would nullify the CMS vaccine mandate and prohibit its enforcement.  At this writing the federal court has not issued any orders relating to the case, although in light of the abbreviated time frame for compliance with the CMS vaccine mandate, it is anticipated that there will be activity related to this case soon.  

Missouri, et al. v. Biden, et al., No. 21-cv-01329 (E.D. Mo.) Complaint






As Vaccination Regulation Litigation Erupts, the Fifth Circuit Stays Mandate Pending Expedited Briefing


 

BST Holdings, et al. v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, No. 21-60845 (5th Cir.). Per curiam order entered November 6, 2021.


 

On Friday, November 5, both the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published regulations in the federal register respectively governing mandatory Covid-19 vaccination or testing and masking for employees of certain employers and governing mandatory vaccination within health care providing entities, the failure to comply with which would threaten federal financial support.

The same day, litigation challenging the labor based regulations was filed in four federal circuit courts of appeal. At this time, there are no known proceedings challenging the CMS regulation, although some have promised that litigation will be commenced.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, perceiving that the litigation presents “grave” issues of statutory and constitutional law, today stayed the mandate pending expedited briefing, to be completed by Tuesday, November 9.

The challengers in the Fifth Circuit are private employers impacted by the federal vaccine mandate, which governs entities with one hundred or more employees These private entities have been joined by several states.

The challengers argue that the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard which is proffered as the premise for mandating vaccination does not and cannot support that demand, as the authority of OSHA is limited to workplace hazards and dangers which would place a virus beyond its scope.

Even if it could be seen that regulation might be possible, it would be constitutionally impermissible on these facts, the challengers assert, as the present federal vaccination scheme does not touch upon interstate commerce, as any exercise of such powers in the absence of a defined Congressional standard violates the non-delegation doctrine, and as the power to address questions of public health in the manner envisioned here is reserved to the states for administration under the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Moreover, the authority of the Department of Labor is constrained to administration of employment and work related matters, and it is beyond the scope of its powers to regulate individual health choices in the guise of imposing an obligation on employers.

Challenges to the new federal measures in other circuits raise additional claims, submitting to the courts that the vaccine mandate offends the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In that there is a limited period of time within which to challenge these regulations, it is likely that these cases will unfold quickly. It is less likely, however, that any of the litigation will ‘skip a grade’ and proceed on an emergency basis to the U.S. Supreme Court. In recent weeks the Supreme Court has on three occasions declined to hear petitions for emergency relief concerning vaccination mandates.

All this unfolds amid multiple challenges in other forums, not the least of which are challenges to regulations extending mandated vaccination beyond federal employees to employees of federal contractors.

The “headline power” of the private employer mandate discussed here ought not obscure the significance of any of the other litigation concerning the sweeping exercise of federal powers premised on a perceived public health emergency in itself has been called into question.

Order of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit:

BST Holdings, et al. v. OSHA, No. 21-60845 (5th Cir.). Per curiam order entered November 6, 2021_

Challenges to the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS):

BST Holdings, et al. v. OSHA, No. 21-60845 (5th Cir.) Petitioners Brief November 5, 2021

Commonwealth of Kentucky, et al. v. OSHA (6th Cir.) Petition Filed November 5, 2021

State of Missouri, et al., v. Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States, et al. (8th Cir.) Petition Filed November 5, 2021

State of Florida, et al. v. OSHA (11th Cir.) Petition Filed November 5, 2021

 

Supreme Court Grants Realtors’ and Landlords’ Petition for Relief from Stay of Judgment Vacating CDC Eviction Moratorium as Unconstitutional

Alabama Association of Realtors, et al. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, et al., No. 21A23. Order granting emergency petition for relief from stay issued August 26, 2021.

The Supreme Court has lifted the stay of the United States District Court’s judgment vacating the Center for Disease Control order imposing a nationwide mortatorium on evictions. 

It is not only rare that the Supreme Court would reach down to a trial court to vacate that court’s order during the pendency of appellate litigation, it is even more rare that the Court would so forcefully tip its hand concerning the likely outcome should the merits of the litigation be reached:   The CDC’s exercise of power in issuing the eviction moratorium was so far outside its authority that, with respect to the likelihood of success of the realtors’ and landlords’ challenge, “it is difficult to imagine them losing.”  (Per Curiam opinion, p.5).  

Should a nationwide eviction moratorium remain desirable, Congress must specifically authorize such a measure. 

Three justices dissented, citing changed conditions supporting the issuance of a new eviction moratorium and finding that the statute granting the CDC powers to act to control communicable disease support the eviction moratorium orders.

21A23 Alabama Assn. of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Servs. (08_26_21)