A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Covid-19 vaccine requirement for federal contractors in three states: Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. CNN says this is “the third time in recent weeks that President Joe Biden’s federal mandate has been blocked in some capacity in certain parts of the country.”
“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?” wrote Judge Gregory Frederick Van Tatenhove, in his 29-page opinion. “In all likelihood, the answer to that question is no.”
The judge ruled Biden exceeded his authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act in imposing the requirement. “While the statute grants to the president great discretion, it strains credulity that Congress intended the FPASA, a procurement statute, to be the basis for promulgating a public health measure such as mandatory vaccination,” wrote the judge, who was appointed to the bench in 2006 by then-President George Bush.
The judge also wrote that he was “concerned that the vaccine mandate intrudes on an area that is traditionally reserved to the States.”
The judge’s opinion emphasized that the case was not about whether vaccines are effective or whether the government can mandate them in certain circumstances. “Plaintiff agencies and contractors are now having to make tough choices about whether they will choose to comply with the vaccine mandate or lose out on future federal government contracts,” the judge wrote.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who brought the lawsuit along with the attorneys general of Kentucky and Tennessee, said “this is not about vaccines, it’s about the mandates…The judge’s opinion clearly states that and it has been our position all along that the president cannot impose these mandates on the people.”
As CNN notes, “While the contractor requirement was blocked in only three states, it is the latest instance of the administration’s mandate meeting resistance in court. In recent weeks, an appeals court froze a mandate that required large companies’ employees to be vaccinated or submit to regular questioning over their status. That order is now under review by a separate appeals court. On Monday, a judge in Missouri halted a Biden vaccine requirement for certain health care workers in 10 states. The Justice Department is appealing that case to an appeals court.”