On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors in three states.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove, who serves in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, issued a preliminary injunction for the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in all covered contracts in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Following President Biden’s issuance of the executive order on the mandate on September 9, there have been numerous legal challenges.
“This is not a case about whether vaccines are effective. They are. Nor is this a case about whether the government, at some level, and in some circumstances, can require citizens to obtain vaccines. It can,” wrote Van Tatenhove. “The question presented here is narrow. 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.’”
He said, “the court is also concerned that the vaccine mandate intrudes on an area that is traditionally reserved to the states.” The matter will “continue with the benefit of full briefing and appellate review,” so until then “enforcement of the contract provisions in this case must be paused.”
The order says that “The government is ENJOINED from enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in all covered contracts in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.” But the details of exactly which contractors would be covered were not immediately clear.
The attorneys general, as well as two county sheriffs in Ohio, filed the lawsuit in early November.
Sheriffs’ offices, along with other industries in Ohio, have federal contracts and rely on them for workers, so the mandate could lead to severe job losses, said a press release from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office at the time.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration vaccine rule for private businesses, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services vaccine mandate for health care workers and now contractor mandates have either been partially or completely blocked temporarily.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said in a tweet the latest preliminary injunction is “great news for freedom.” Republicans in the House and Senate have expressed vast opposition to the Biden administration’s vaccine policies.
Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, similarly said this is “good news.”
As for the vaccine mandate for federal employees, in one legal challenge, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., chose to not block the vaccine mandate for federal employees.
The White House did not immediately respond for comment on the court’s decision.