More Circuits Added to the OSHA ETS Lottery
Lawsuits challenging the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing (the “ETS”) issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) were filed in three additional U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. Labor unions filed lawsuits in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, and Ninth Circuits. As a result, there are now ETS-related lawsuits pending in the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuit Courts.
According to federal rules, the legal challenges to the OSHA ETS will be consolidated and heard by a single U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will conduct a lottery, expected on November 16, to select which U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the consolidated litigation. The court to hear the litigation will be drawn “from a drum containing an entry for each circuit wherein a constituent petition for review is pending.” Each court only gets one entry, despite the number of petitions pending before each court. Until the Judicial Panel selects the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the litigation via the lottery, all the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals can proceed with rulings, as the Fifth Circuit did this past weekend.
The labor unions’ move may be a move reflective of an intent by some to increase the odds that the OSHA ETS is upheld. The First, Second, and Fourth circuits all have a majority of Democratic-appointed judges. But it is difficult to predict the future of the OSHA ETS as the panel of judges to hear the case is also selected randomly.