The Biden administration’s employer vaccine mandate hit another hurdle on Friday, as the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the mandate pending further action from the court, calling it “staggeringly overbroad.” 

According to 5th Circuit Judge Kurt Engelhardt’s written opinion, “rather than a delicately handled scalpel, the Mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers) that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address.”

In a written smackdown of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard, which requires employers with 100 or more employees to mandate the COVID vaccine or require weekly testing, the 5th Circuit challenged the constitutionality of the mandate and called out OSHA and the Biden administration for their overreaching authority. 

Engelhardt wrote, “[OSHA] was not—and likely could not be, under the Commerce Clause and nondelegation doctrine—intended to authorize a workplace safety administration in the deep recesses of the federal bureaucracy to make sweeping pronouncements on matters of public health affecting every member of society in the profoundest of ways.”

In a scathing review of the federal government’s attempt at a vaccine mandate through the utilization of OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard—which OSHA itself claimed was unnecessary in a previous case—the 5th Circuit identified key flaws with the mandate. 

The 5th Circuit claimed that the mandate is over-inclusive due to a lack of regard for industry or individual employees, as well as under-inclusive since it applies only to employers with 100 or more employees. 

According to Engelhardt, “underinclusiveness of this sort is often regarded as a telltale sign that the government’s interest in enacting a liberty-restraining pronouncement is not in fact ‘compelling.’”

Compelling government interest is a necessary component for strict judicial scrutiny, which any policy that infringes on the rights of citizens must survive. Currently, the court does not find the Biden administration’s employer vaccine mandate constitutionally justifiable. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is among the lead state attorneys bringing the legal challenge, called the stay a “massive victory” for Texans, while also noting that litigation would continue.