On Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, a Georgia district judge issued a nationwide injunction halting the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all federal contractors that was set to go into full effect on Jan. 18, 2022, and required covered contractors to have their employees fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022.
The plaintiffs in the case consisted of the states of Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia. These plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the enforcement of the vaccine mandate. While the presiding judge acknowledged the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the toll it has taken across the U.S., he emphasized that “even in times of crisis this court must preserve the rule of law and ensure that all branches of government act within the bounds of their constitutionally granted authorities.” Applying basic tenets of constitutional law, the court characterized the mandate as a federal overreach of the president’s authority under the Procurement Act.
Notably, the Georgia ruling was decided just a week after a Kentucky federal judge blocked the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors in the states of Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, on the grounds that the mandate intrudes upon the states’ long-standing authority to regulate public health, safety and welfare. This follows closely on the heels of other state and federal courts that have likewise rejected and enjoined the implementation of vaccine mandates for healthcare workers put in place by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard on Vaccination and Testing (ETS) for private employers with more than 100 employees. As these legal dominos continue to fall, absent major turnarounds in the appellate courts or the U.S. Supreme Court, it appears that government-issued COVID-19 vaccine mandates might be in real peril of not taking effect.