US Appeals Court Upholds Decision to Block Vaccine Mandate

OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion

In three states, an appeals court has upheld a decision to temporarily block the federal government’s requirement that contractors receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The law was blocked in November by a judge in Louisville, KY, who found that the Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee mandate should not take effect. On Wednesday, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the injunction in a 2–1 ruling.

In its Wednesday order, the Sixth Appeals Court majority found that the injunction is enforceable “because the government has established none of the showings required to obtain a stay.”

States are “imminently threatened in their proprietary capacities should they renew those existing contracts (thus triggering the mandate as well) or should they choose to bid on new contracts to which the mandate applies,” the court wrote in its order. “And if they chose not to renew such contracts given the contractor mandate, they could lose millions of dollars in funding from the federal government for critical state programs.”

The defendant’s argument that COVID-19 vaccine mandates for contractors infringe upon states’ rights was reasonable.

“They have also plausibly alleged that the federal government has intruded upon an area traditionally left to the states—the regulation of the public health of state citizens in general and the decision whether to mandate vaccination in particular,” said the court in a statement Wednesday.

According to President Joe Biden, the vaccine requirement for contractors was part of the president’s announcement on sweeping mandates, such as the rule that states that workers in companies with 100 or more workers have to submit to weekly testing or receive the vaccine if they don’t have it. As a part of his mandate, Biden ordered federal workers to get the vaccine. Medicare and Medicaid administrators, along with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, have been pushing health care facilities that benefit from these programs to require their workers to get the vaccinations.

“This ensures, while the case continues to proceed, that federal contractors in Kentucky aren’t subject to the Biden Administration’s unlawful mandate,” Daniel Cameron, the Republican Attorney General who filed the lawsuit against the mandate, said in a statement Thursday.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hold a special session to determine if it should rule on petitions filed by health care workers and private businesses challenging the vaccination mandate.

In a matter determined by a panel on Dec. 17 the 6t h Court of Appeals on Dec. 17 ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has the legal authority to issue its emergency temporary standard that impacts private businesses. Each violation of the rule carries hefty fines of thousands of dollars.

A few weeks before that, the Fifth Court of Appeals in November blocked the OSHA mandate. A few days later, it reaffirmed its decision and characterized the mandate as “staggeringly broad.”

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