• The San Juan Daily Star

What courts have said about Biden’s vaccine mandates

President Joe Biden speaking on the vaccination program in October in Washington. All three of President Biden’s recent vaccine mandates have been delayed by the courts.

By Isabella Grullón Paz

All three of President Joe Biden’s broad vaccine mandates affecting the private sector have been put on hold by courts.

The Biden administration issued three mandates in September — one for federal contractors, another for health care workers, and a third for companies with more than 100 employees. Some Republican governors have argued that Biden does not have the authority to impose these mandates, which are estimated to cover more than 100 million workers.

And federal judges in Georgia, Louisiana and Missouri — all appointed by Republicans — have agreed in part, creating a roadblock for the administration’s push to vaccinate all Americans. Before the court orders, local and private mandates had helped boost vaccination rates.

Here’s where the court cases stand:

Federal contractors

A federal judge in Southern Georgia on Tuesday blocked the vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors.

U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Georgia R. Stanley Baker — appointed by President Donald Trump — issued a preliminary nationwide injunction saying that he is “unconvinced” that the administration has the authority to impose the vaccine rules for contractors. The judge also argued that the mandate would “have a major impact on the economy at large.”

The order was in response to a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

Health care workers

A Trump-appointed federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a nationwide preliminary injunction last week to halt the start of Biden’s national vaccine mandate for health care workers.

The injunction, written by Judge Terry A. Doughty appointed by Trump, effectively expanded a separate order issued by a federal court in Missouri by another Trump-appointed judge, Matthew Thomas Schelp. The earlier order had applied only to 10 states.

Congress should make the mandate, not a government agency, Doughty wrote.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services appealed both rulings.

Large businesses

Employers and governors in mostly Republican states have opposed Biden’s mandate that employees of large companies must be vaccinated or get tested weekly, arguing that it was overreach with various lawsuits.

A panel of three Republican appointed judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans has blocked the mandate nationwide multiple times, declaring that the rule “grossly exceeds” the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In a filing asking the 5th Circuit to withdraw its stay, the Justice Department argued that requiring large employers to force their workers to get vaccinated was within their administrative reach.

The ruling by the panel of the 5th Circuit is unlikely to be the final word. Some challenges to the mandate are in other circuits, and the Supreme Court is expected to eventually decide the matter.

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