Opponents of the Biden administration’s vaccine/testing mandate received a major victory Saturday when a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the new rule and ordered both sides to issue new briefs.
The two-page order by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay request by three faith-based employers and others to block the new rule, which requires that large employers mandate their workers either be vaccinated or undergo regular testing and mandatory masking. The three religious employers are Answers in Genesis, Daystar Television Network and the American Family Association. Multiple states, including Texas, also sued within the Fifth Circuit and are named in the order.
The new rule was handed down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court,” the order said.
The panel told the Biden administration to submit its briefs by 5 p.m. (local time) Monday and the petitioners to submit their reply by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The three-judge panel was composed of three Republican presidential nominees: Edith Jones (Ronald Reagan), Kurt Damian Engelhardt (George W. Bush) and Stuart Kyle Duncan (Donald Trump).
First Liberty Institute is representing the three faith-based employers.
“We don’t live in a dictatorship where a President can issue an edict and take over all of the large companies in our nation and the lives of over 84 million Americans,” said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The mandate is massively unconstitutional and violates statutory law as well. We’re pleased that the Fifth Circuit has stopped it from being implemented.”
Multiple Christian ministries have challenged the mandate. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky sued within the Sixth Circuit, while Cambridge Christian School and The King’s Academy (West Palm Beach) in Florida sued within the 11th Circuit.
Meanwhile, three other religious institutions – Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools in South Dakota, the Christian Employers Alliance in North Dakota and the Home School Legal Defense Association – filed a suit within the Eighth Circuit.
“Although Petitioners do not oppose the vaccines, their Christian faith requires them to respect their employees’ religious decisions to remain unvaccinated and to not burden those beliefs,” the Southern Seminary/Asbury suit said.
Photo courtesy: Fernando Zhiminaicela/Pixabay
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.