Biden’s federal contractor vaccine mandate loses in court again

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost applauded a federal appeals court decision to block the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati agreed late Thursday with a lower court ruling that imposed a preliminary injunction on the proposed mandate that would have also required tens of millions of Americans to wear face masks at work.

“The court reaffirmed a basic civics lesson: the executive branch cannot demand compliance with a rule it never had the authority to write in the first place,” Yost said.

Shortly after the federal guidance was issued, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, along with two Ohio sheriffs sued the president and several federal agencies to stop the mandate. The district court, in granting the preliminary injunction, said Biden likely exceeded his authority.

The federal government immediately appealed and the 6th Circuit – serving Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee – denied a motion to stay the injunction.

The appeals court, in Kentucky v. Biden, called the scope of the mandate stunning.

“We thus agree with our colleagues that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in showing that the President exceeded his authority in issuing the contractor mandate,” the 6th Circuit’s recent ruling said.

As previously reported by The Center Square, in September 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to comply with federal COVID-19 guidance. In November that year, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, which determines the scope of that guidance, announced the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, which included contractors.

That measure was quickly challenged in court by trade groups and several states, and in December 2021, a federal district court issued an injunction blocking the new vaccine mandate.

However, in August 2022, the 11th Circuit – based in Atlanta serving Alabama, Florida and Georgia – ruled that the previous court’s injunction should only apply to those states and groups that filed suit.

The Biden administration extended the declaration of the pandemic public health emergency status through Jan. 11.

A year ago, Yost led a group of 27 attorneys general from around the country in front of the U.S. Supreme Court asking for an immediate stay to the OSHA rule. OHSA withdrew the rule later in January 2022.

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