After a three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Saturday temporarily blocked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency standard, the Department of Justice responded late Monday, asserting the government’s right to impose rules for the health and welfare of its citizens.

“The Department of Labor has a responsibility to keep workers safe and the legal authority to do so,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday.

Federal law gives the OSHA the authority to address grave dangers in the workplace, and “OSHA reasonably concluded that the standard is necessary to address a grave danger,” the Justice Department stated. The individuals and companies that filed the lawsuit disagree as to whether COVID-19 meets the standard of a  grave danger in the workplace, and they view the mandate as government overreach.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance filed an amicus brief in the same court late Monday, challenging the vaccine mandate as “unprecedentedly broad and  invasive,” according to court records.

“OSHA rules should regulate the workplace. This new rule nakedly regulates the worker,” said John Vecchione, NCLA’s senior litigation counsel. “There is nothing in the statute or the Constitution that imparts power on OSHA to force companies to fire unvaccinated workers. ‘Take it or you’re fired’ is not informed consent.”

According to the Justice Department, the lawsuit is premature. “Most of [the petitioner’s] asserted harms are at least a month off, and many of their claimed harms relate to a testing requirement that does not become effective until January 2022,” the department wrote in rebuttal.