by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joe Biden’s effort to use the federal government to mandate the COVID vaccine is not faring very well in the courts. In early November, the Fifth Circuit halted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine mandate almost as soon as it was announced. After hearing briefing and argument, it extended the stay. Now, we have a battery of additional decisions from the federal district courts.
Today, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky, Gregory van Tatenhove (a George W. Bush appointee), issued an injunction blocking the vaccine mandate for employees of federal-government contractors and subcontractors. The injunction applies throughout three states (Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee), the state governments of which were plaintiffs in the case. The court, citing the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in the OSHA case, was unconvinced that the Biden administration had the authority to do this:
“While the statute grants to the president great discretion, it strains credulity that Congress intended…a procurement statute to be the basis for promulgating a public health measure such as mandatory vaccination.” …
… Yesterday and today, federal judges in Louisiana and Missouri entered injunctions against vaccine mandates for the staff of 21 types of Medicare and Medicaid health-care providers, enacted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and planned to go into effect next Monday. Monday’s ruling was by Judge Matthew Schlep of the Eastern District of Missouri (a Trump appointee), and applies to ten states (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming), all of which were plaintiffs in the case. Judge Schlep, too, cited the lack of statutory authorization. …
… Finally, today, Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana (a Trump appointee) enjoined the CMS mandate in the other 40 states.