Federal judge blocks COVID vaccine mandate for government contractors
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Federal judge blocks COVID vaccine mandate for government contractors

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia Tuesday blocked a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees of federal government contractors.

US President Joe Biden had signed Executive Order 14042 in September, requiring all contractors that work with the US government to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Several states immediately challenged the mandate, including South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Utah and West Virginia. In their complaint, plaintiffs alleged that the order is an unconstitutional violation of the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the federal government. They also argued that the mandate was an overreach of presidential power. Finally, they claimed that the mandate also violates the federal Procurement Act, the Administrative Procedures Act and the federal Spending Clause.

Judge Stan Baker heard arguments in the case Friday and issued a nationwide preliminary injunction Tuesday, blocking enforcement of the order. In balancing the plaintiffs’ interest with the harm that would be caused by not issuing an injunction, Baker wrote:

Enjoining EO 14042 would, essentially, do nothing more than maintain the status quo; entities will still be free to encourage their employees to get vaccinated, and the employees will still be free to choose to be vaccinated. In contrast, declining to issue a preliminary injunction would force Plaintiffs to comply with the mandate, requiring them to make decisions which would significantly alter their ability to perform federal contract work which is critical to their operations.

Tuesday’s order is the latest in a series of rulings blocking vaccine mandates. Last week a federal judge in Missouri issued an order blocking the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in 10 states, and a judge in Louisiana issued a nationwide injunction. Earlier in November the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld its prior decision to block the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for private businesses.