Federal judge blocks looming vaccine mandate for millions of health care workers

President Joe Biden has taken an increasingly authoritarian stance regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates, but some judges and other public officials are fighting back.

According to the Daily Wire, a federal mandate impacting millions of health care workers was blocked by a judge on Monday.

“Politically and economically vast”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requirement was set to go into effect in December but 10 states — Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming —  joined together to launch a legal challenge.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Schlep issued a preliminary injunction on Monday. The 32-page ruling blocked the CMS mandate from being implemented or enforced in any of the 10 plaintiff states.

The judge determined that Congress had not granted the agency the authority it claimed to have in issuing the vaccine mandate, which he further said overstepped the balance between state and federal power.

“Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate, which Supreme Court precedent requires,” Schlep added.

According to his ruling, CMS violated the Administrative Procedures Act and other statutory requirements by bypassing the normal notice and comment period for new rules. Therefore, he rejected the government’s claim of a “good cause” emergency exception to the otherwise applicable requirement.

“Arbitrary and capricious”

Schlep pointed to the agency’s own delays in announcing the mandate as well as contradictions within its own briefs as evidence that the mandate should not be implemented immediately.

He also declared the mandate to be “arbitrary and capricious” because it was overly broad, rejected many alternatives to the vaccine, was a sudden change of course from prior policies, and failed to properly consider the burden it would impose on states and facilities.

As the Associated Press reported, the vaccine mandate would have applied to roughly 17 million workers in about 76,000 health care facilities nationwide that accepted federal funding from Medicare or Medicaid programs.

Those workers were given a deadline of Dec. 6 to obtain their first dose of the vaccine or face decertification or defunding for their employers.

As it stands, that mandate is on hold in at least 10 states pending further litigation. Challenges are still underway on behalf of other states, however, so that number could expand.

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