A federal judge blocked a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers set to kick in next week, the latest legal blow to the Biden administration’s new rules.
US District Judge Terry Doughty’s issued a preliminary injunction for workers across the country, a day after another judge halted the mandate in 10 states.
“This matter will ultimately be decided by a higher court than this one,” Doughty wrote in a 34-page ruling. “However, it is important to preserve the status quo in this case. The liberty interests of the unvaccinated requires nothing less.”
Doughty, appointed to the Western District of Louisiana court by former President Donald Trump, said the 14 states whose lawsuit sparked his ruling had raised questions about whether the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had exceeded its authority by issuing a vaccine requirement.
“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million healthcare workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” Doughty wrote. “It is not clear that even an Act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional. Certainly, CMS does not have this authority by a general authorization statue.”
More than 17 million workers in about 76,000 health care facilities would have had to get their first dose of one of the approved vaccines by Dec. 6 under the CMS guidance.
A previous ruling put a hold on the Biden administration rule that private businesses with more than 100 workers would have to get vaccinated or wear masks and get tested each week.