A federal judge in Louisiana has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
Judge Terry A. Doughty, a Donald Trump appointee, in the U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana, blocked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from mandating the shots for nearly every employee, volunteer, and contractor working in healthcare facilities that receive funding through the federal agency.
Doughty wrote in his ruling Tuesday:
[T]he Plaintiff States have standing to regulate matters they believe they control, to attack preemption of state law by a federal agency, and to protect the enforcement of state law. The CMS Mandate specifically preempts state laws with regard to COVID-19 Vaccine requirements and/or exemptions.
The Plaintiff States also have standing and injury, based upon the alleged loss of jobs, loss of businesses, loss of tax revenue, and other damages allegedly resulting from employees being fired for refusing the vaccine and/or providers being terminated by CMS from the Medicare/Medicaid provider agreement.
“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million healthcare workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” Doughty wrote, adding:
It is not clear that even an Act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional. Certainly CMS does not have this authority by a general authorization statute.
The injunction applies to 40 states, while Judge Matthew T. Schelp, also a Donald Trump appointee, of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, temporarily blocked the CMS vaccine mandate in the other 10 states in a separate ruling Monday.
The Court Tuesday said it will render judgment on or before December 5.
Prior to Doughty’s ruling, CMS had required all staff covered by the mandate to take at least one COVID-19 shot dose by December 6, with full vaccination required by January 4.
“Staff in any healthcare setting who remain unvaccinated pose both direct and indirect threats to patient safety and population health,” CMS responded to Forbes on Monday, after the Missouri judge’s ruling.
“The Biden Administration has struck out in court yet again,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson of South Carolina, one of the 14 states that sued to stop the mandate in State of Louisiana v. Xavier Becerra.
“That is because the President does not respect the rule of law but only the abuse of power,” Wilson added. “Our brave healthcare workers should not be subjected to such overreach by a President who wishes to rule by force.”
The states argued in the lawsuit President Joe Biden lacks authority for the mandate.
“The Biden Administration is playing statutory shell games with the courts, straining to justify an unjustifiable and unprecedented attempt to federalize public health policy and diminish the sovereign States’ constitutional powers,” the states’ attorneys general asserted.
Since “no state authorizes the federal Executive to mandate vaccines to increase societal immunity,” they continued, the administration’s answer was to “[u]se statutory schemes never before interpreted to allow federal vaccine mandates to shoehorn the President’s goals into the fabric of American society.”
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