court signing
Federal Judge Halts Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers

December 1, 2021

By Corinne Murdock |

On Tuesday, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction against President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate for health care workers. Arizona health care workers under CMS jurisdiction via Medicare and Medicaid programs don’t have to adhere to the vaccine mandate. Louisiana Western District Judge Terry Doughty, an appointee of previous President Donald Trump, issued the order. 

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced the injunction Tuesday afternoon. 

“NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION Great news – a federal judge just granted our coalition’s request to STOP the Biden Administration’s overreaching ‘job or jab’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. We will continue to take action to protect Arizona’s health care heroes,” wrote Brnovich.

Brnovich joined a coalition of 13 other states led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, in response to an emergency order issued by CMS on November 4. Under the CMS mandate, health care workers would’ve had to be fully vaccinated by January 4. That would’ve required individuals receiving vaccines requiring two doses to receive their first injection by December 6 to be fully compliant. 

In a memorandum, Doughty wrote that Biden’s attempt to bypass Congress posed a grave threat to our Constitutional order. He emphasized the importance of safeguarding American liberties more so during the pandemic than at any other time.

“If the separation of powers meant anything to the Constitutional framers, it meant that the three necessary ingredients to deprive a person of liberty or property – the power to make rules, to enforce them, and to judge their violations – could never fall into the same hands,” wrote Doughty. “The executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, two of the three powers conferred by our Constitution would be in the same hands. If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency.”

Although Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement on Tuesday emphasizing the importance of vaccinations to combating COVID-19 and the latest variant, Omicron, she didn’t address the ruling as of press time.

Neither did President Joe Biden. Instead, Biden’s remarks for most of Tuesday concerned bills his administration worked to pass such as the infrastructure law, with the school shooting in Oxford, Michigan occupying the remainder of that day. 

Reuters noted in their coverage that the White House declined to comment on these legal losses.

This is the latest in a series of legal battles over COVID-19 vaccine mandates that the president has lost. Courts also temporarily halted the federal contractor vaccine mandate, as well as a rule through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to either be vaccinated or tested weekly. 

Kentucky Eastern District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove, a Bush appointee, also issued his order halting the Biden Administration’s requirement that new government contracts require contractor employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 on Tuesday. Tatenhove’s rationale for imposing the injunction was similar to Doughty’s, citing “serious Constitutional concerns.” Tatenhove didn’t dispute that the COVID-19 vaccine worked, or that the federal government could mandate vaccinations within certain circumstances. Rather, Tatenhove said that the legal question at hand concerned what authorities the president and federal government had.

“Can the president use congressionally delegated authority to manage the federal procurement of goods and services to impose vaccines on the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors? In all likelihood, the answer to that question is no,” wrote Tatenhove. “[T]here is a serious concern that Defendants have stepped into an area traditionally reserved to the States, and this provides an additional reason to temporarily enjoin the vaccine mandate.”

Read Doughty’s full opinion ordering an injunction against the CMS mandate here.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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