Biden OSHA vaccine mandate: Federal panel expected to consolidate barrage of lawsuits into one massive case

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A federal panel is expected to combine a dozen lawsuits against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) rule requiring employees at big companies to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 weekly. 

The monster case will be heard in a federal court of appeals selected by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in a lottery next week, according to a letter from the Department of Justice filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Monday. A decision on what federal appeals court will hear the consolidated case is expected to come next week. 

"We write to notify the Court of developments in other courts of appeals related to the above-captioned cases challenging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s November 4, 2021 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) addressing means to protect against the grave danger to certain employees of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace," the letter said. "To date, petitions for review challenging the same ETS have been filed in the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits."

BIDEN ADMIN CONSIDERING VACCINE MANDATE FOR BUSINESSES WITH FEWER THAN 100 EMPLOYEES

The DOJ letter lists a dozen cases against OSHA, the Department of Labor (DOL) and even President Biden himself over the vaccine mandate. They are brought by various states, businesses and nonprofit organizations. 

President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Baltimore. Biden asked his administration to impose a rule on large employers forcing employers to either be vaccinated (AP Newsroom)

The Fifth Circuit case, called BST Holdings v. OSHA, was moving particularly quickly.  

A panel on that court blocked enforcement of the OSHA order on Saturday and ordered the federal government to respond with arguments on whether the court should permanently strike down the rule by Monday. The plaintiffs suing against the mandate were given a Tuesday deadline to file their own argument. 

But while briefs from both parties are still expected to be filed as scheduled, the Fifth Circuit is expected to put off any ruling until it's decided which appeals court will be assigned the case by the multidistrict litigation panel. 

There are 12 regional circuit courts of appeals in the United States, plus the Federal Circuit. Those courts are all one step beneath the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In this Oct. 5, 2021, file photo a healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The Biden administration has faced a barrage of lawsuits over its vaccination-or-testing rule covering more t (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File / AP Images)

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It is possible the consolidated case could be heard by the end of the month, setting up potential Supreme Court action on the OSHA mandate after that. 

The OSHA mandate applies to only companies with more than 100 employees, but OSHA confirmed to FOX Business last week it is considering extending the rule to small businesses, too.

Fox News' Bill Mears contributed to this report. 

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