Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate Nationwide
On Tuesday, December 7th, a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction on the vaccine mandate for federal contractors.
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the states of Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia; the governors of several of those states; and some of the state agencies. The Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. joined as an intervener.
In his Order, Judge R. Stan Baker stated that while the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act bestows some authority upon the president, Judge Baker was unconvinced that it authorized him to direct the type of actions by agencies that are contained in the Executive Order. Judge Baker found that "declining to issue a preliminary injunction would force Plaintiffs to comply with the mandate, requiring them to make decisions which would significantly alter their ability to perform federal contract work which is critical to their operations.” Baker said that requiring compliance with the federal contractor rules "would likely be life altering for many of Plaintiffs' employees as Plaintiffs would be required to decide whether an employee who refuses to be vaccinated can, in practicality, be reassigned to another office or another task or whether the employee instead must be terminated."
Furthermore, Judge Baker found that the Executive Order would “have vast economic and political significances.” In support of this conclusion, Judge Baker stressed the scope of the Biden Administration’s Executive Order, stating the impact it would have on the Associated Builders and Contractors membership, the number of contracts Plaintiffs would be involved with, and the fact that the Executive Order applies to subcontractors and others. As such, Judge Baker found it necessary to issue an injunction nationwide.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded that the Justice Department will vigorously defend this mandate in court.
The government has sixty (60) days from the date of the decision to file an appeal. Therefore, the Biden administration has until February 5, 2022 to respond.
This Order means that all three major Biden vaccine policies for people not employed by the federal government (i.e. the mandates for contractors, certain health care workers, and employees of larger companies) are frozen across the country. At this time, the vaccine mandates for federal employees and Head Start staff have not been stopped.