A federal judge in Louisiana on Tuesday temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers nationwide where it is still in effect.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty’s preliminary injunction comes one day after a federal court in Missouri temporarily halted the mandate in 10 states.
Judge Doughty, a Trump appointee, prohibited the administration from enforcing the mandate in other states while litigation continues in the case filed by a coalition of 14 Republican state attorneys general.
“Although this court considered limiting the injunction to the fourteen plaintiff states, there are unvaccinated healthcare workers in other states who also need protection,” the judge stated.
He wrote that the administration did not have the authority to issue the mandate requiring health care workers employed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.
“The Biden administration is playing statutory shell games with the courts, straining to justify an unjustifiable and unprecedented attempt to federalize public health policy and diminish the sovereign states’ constitutional powers,” the 34-page ruling states.
The health care workers, he said, will face “irreparable injury” by having to choose between getting vaccinated or losing their job and health care facilities will be “burdened” with tracking and enforcing the mandate, or losing federal funding.
“If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency,” the judge wrote. “During a pandemic such as this one, it is even more important to safeguard the separation of powers set forth in our Constitution to avoid erosion of our liberties.”
If the ruling is appealed, it will be decided by a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, applauded the decision in a statement on Tuesday.
“Great news — a federal judge just granted our coalition’s request to STOP the Biden Administration‘s overreaching ‘job or jab’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers,” Mr. Brnovich said. “We will continue to take action to protect Arizona’s health care heroes.”
The Washington Times sent a request for comment on Tuesday to the Justice Department.