By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — – A federal court in Florida has temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors, handing another win to Republican attorneys general who’ve sued in multiple states.
Of the ruling, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said she was proud to secure an injunction to stop President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors.
“Floridians should not have to choose between the vaccine and their careers,” Ms. Moody said. “There is still a lot of fight left in us and we will continue to push back against unlawful fed overreach.”
The mandate was issued via executive order Sept. 9, requiring all entities that contract with the federal government to provide “adequate COVID-19 safeguards to their workers performing on or in connection with a federal government contract,” including requiring the COVID-19 shots.
The order was touted by the White House as a safeguard “to decrease the spread of COVID-19, which will decrease worker absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors at sites where they are performing work for the Federal Government.”
But Ms. Moody sued, arguing it violates several federal statutes, Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, and the Tenth Amendment.
Ms. Moody argues that Pres. Biden doesn’t “have the authority to force millions of Americans to receive a shot, nor does he have the ability to punish Florida economically for not abiding by his authoritarian, unlawful and unconstitutional executive order.”
U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday agreed. He granted Ms. Moody’s request for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday.
In his ruling, he wrote that Florida “demonstrates a substantial likelihood” that the executive order “exceeds the President’s authority” under the Federal Procurement and Administrative Services Act.
“The defendants identify no section of FPASA demonstrating that Congress ‘clearly intended’ to authorize the President (assuming Congress can) to impose a public health requirement as a condition of a contractor’s supplying services,” Judge Merryday wrote. “Of course, the defendants maintain that contractors remain free to refuse to contract with the world’s largest buyer of goods and services,” he added. “But because the President must rely, at best, on Congress’s authorization under FPASA, the President’s attempt to impose under [FPASA] a requirement both that Congress itself likely lacks the power to impose and that traditionally remains textually committed by the Constitution to the states demands a rationale beyond that required for the posting of notices in the workplace, the use of a centralized employment eligibility system, and the like.”
A nationwide preliminary injunction is already in place after U.S. District Judge Stan Baker of the Southern District of Georgia granted the request of seven states and the Associated Builders and Contractors on Dec. 7.
In his ruling, he enjoined the federal government from “enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in all covered contracts in any state or territory of the United States of America.”
Two other federal judges also blocked the same mandate in different districts.
In Missouri, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the mandate on Dec. 20 in a lawsuit filed by 10 states led by the attorneys general of Missouri and Nebraska.
In Kentucky, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by attorneys general from Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
“This is not a case about whether vaccines are effective. They are. Nor is this a case about whether the government, at some level, and in some circumstances, can require citizens to obtain vaccines. It can,” U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove, wrote.
“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? In all likelihood, the answer to that question is no.”