Biden's Vaccine Mandate in Hands of Republican Appointee-Dominated 6th Circuit Court

The federal U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit based in Cincinnati, Ohio won a lottery Tuesday to hear the consolidated lawsuit that challenges President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for workplaces with over 100 employees.

The circuit was randomly selected by a court clerk, who drew the name from a container holding each of the twelve regional appeals courts, according to The New York Times.

The case will be heard by a three-judge panel, and the ruling could potentially represent a major blow in Biden's efforts to uphold his mandate. The majority of the judges in the 6th appeals circuit were appointed by Republican presidents, and the circuit as a whole leans heavily towards the GOP.

It has not been made clear, however, whether or not the trio will simply file an injunction blocking the enforcement of the mandate pending review, or would attempt to strike down the mandate altogether.

The filing represents numerous states challenging the legality of the mandate and consolidates at least 34 individual lawsuits into one case.

Most of the states involved in these lawsuits are led by Republican governors, including Missouri, Indiana, and Florida, among others.

Joe Biden Vaccine Mandates
President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate is now in the hands of a Republican-led 6th Circuit Court. Above, Biden speaks about COVID-19 vaccination efforts during an October 2021 press conference at the White House. Drew Angerer/Getty

Many of these GOP-run states have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, particularly as the weather across the country begins to turn towards the winter months.

The upcoming appeals court hearing follows a recent decision by a similar body, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which issued a temporary order blocking Biden's mandate.

The block was issued pending further judicial review, and also stated that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was not allowed to enforce the rule.

The 5th circuit, similar to the 6th, is also filled with many Republican-appointed judges. Two out of the three judges that made up the 5th circuit panel were put onto the court by former President Donald Trump, and the third is also a conservative.

Despite these court-based roadblocks, the Biden administration has continued to assert that the vaccine mandate is both legal and necessary in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Biden administration first announced additional steps to stop the spread in September, including the vaccine mandate for businesses with over 100 employees. Employees that do not wish to receive the vaccine must show proof of a negative COVID test every week.

The mandate, which went into effect at the beginning of November, also stated that workers must receive paid time off to get the vaccine and provided other protections for employees who choose to receive the shot.

OSHA was originally instructed by Biden to carry out the vaccine mandates. Republicans in Congress, however, have continued to argue that OSHA has no inherent power to do something of that nature.

If the mandate were to be formally struck down, the Biden administration argues that it would "likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous costs."

Newsweek has reached out to the White House for comment.