Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate Blocked Nationwide by Court
December 7, 2021
By Brett W. Johnson and Mary Colleen Fowler
On December 7, a Georgia federal judge blocked the highly contentious federal contractor vaccine mandate from going into effect nationwide. Upon issuing the injunction, the judge ruled 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.”
Particularly, the Court noted that the “Plaintiffs will likely succeed in their claim that the President exceeded the authorization given to him by Congress through the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act when issuing Executive Order 14042.” Nevertheless, the Court clearly indicates that its ruling does not touch upon whether vaccines are effective and does not suggest otherwise.
The nationwide injunction follows a recent and similar decision in Kentucky, which blocked the vaccine from taking effect for the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. However, a federal judge in Arizona declined to issue a similar order.
The mandate was part of several that the Biden administration rolled out to combat the challenges of COVID-19 in an effort to increase vaccination rates. The other mandates, including those issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), are pending in appellate courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has temporarily blocked enforcement of the OSHA regulation. The Sixth Circuit is poised to consider the consolidated challenges to the OSHA rule. Similarly, the CMS mandate was blocked by decisions in the Western District of Louisiana and Eastern District of Missouri.
Businesses, including federal contractors, should work with their counsel to keep abreast of developments in these cases. For now, the January 4, 2022 vaccination deadline is ineffective. It is expected that employees and subcontractors subject to a current company policy that was triggered by the government contractor mandate may have concerns about continued implementation. Contractors should review current policies, related justifications, and develop a potential plan of action to address the new developments.