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6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to hear challenges to federal vaccine mandate

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Posted at 9:44 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 11:18:04-05

CINCINNATI — The United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati will hear challenges to the federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement for businesses with more than 100 employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Friday it suspended implementation and enforcement of its COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ordered OSHA to stop "until further court notice."

Under the standard, businesses with more than 100 employees must require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing by Jan. 4. OSHA could fine businesses who do not comply nearly $14,000 for each violation, up to $136,532.

While Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost joined six other Republican attorneys general in asking the 6th Circuit to stop the mandate, the petitions the court will hear are those from the 5th Circuit. When there are challenges filed in multiple districts, officials use a ping-pong ball to choose which court gets to hear them. The Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit got pulled.

A panel of three of the court's 16 judges will get to hear the challenges. The three will be picked at random, though some have noted 11 of the 16 were appointed by a Republican president. Defense attorney Marty Pinales said the three judges matter more than the overall makeup of the court, and said no one should read too much into who appointed them.

"It may be that they lean conservative, but conservative may not necessarily be anti-vaccine," Pinales said. "This is a new situation...can somebody say I don't want to and you can't take my job away?"

As of Wednesday afternoon, the 6th Circuit did not have the case. The 5th Circuit said the petitions are expected to get to Cincinnati within the next 24 hours.

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