A federal judge in Louisiana has blocked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. District Judge Terry A. Doughty granted 14 states' request for a preliminary injunction that not only halts the CMS vaccine requirement in each state but also halts the directive across the entire nation. Noting the need for uniformity with the nationwide mandate, the judge said he decided to extend the preliminary injunction beyond the 14 states because unvaccinated workers in other states "also need protection" of their civil liberties as litigation continues. In the 34-page memorandum ruling, Doughty wrote:
"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.
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."
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Doughty communicated in Tuesday's memorandum ruling that the plaintiff states had unquestionably proven CMS's mandate would lead to irreparable injury against each state. He noted the plaintiffs' arguments that CMS exceeded its authority with the rule and did not have reasonable cause to forego the required notice and comment period. He also stated that the states would likely find success in the case's eventual ruling. Similarly, Doughty stated the states are likely to find success arguing that the mandate was both contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious, but will likely be hit and miss around other alleged constitutional violations. He added:
"This matter will ultimately be decided by a higher court than this one. However, it is important to preserve the status quo in this case. The liberty interests of the unvaccinated requires nothing less."
In early November, CMS announced it would require its healthcare facilities to have a policy in place to ensure workers receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 5 and be fully jabbed by Jan. 4, 2022. The agency maintained that failure to comply with the vaccine mandate would jeopardize the facility's Medicare funding.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry applauded Tuesday's decision. Landry led 12 states in filing the challenge on Nov. 15, with two additional states joining the case in the following weeks. Declaring "our fight is far from over," Landry was pleased with the court's decision to grant preliminary relief "against the President's unconstitutional and immoral attack on not only our healthcare workers but also the access to healthcare services for our poor and elderly." In a statement following the ruling, he added:
"I applaud Judge Doughty for recognizing that Louisiana is likely to succeed on the merits and for delivering yet another victory for the medical freedom of Americans. While Joe Biden villainizes our healthcare heroes with his' jab or job' edicts, I will continue to stand up to the President's bully tactics and fight for liberty.
I will see this case through to the end—fighting every step of the way to prevent the federal government from imposing medical tyranny on our citizens and turning last year's healthcare heroes into this year's unemployed.”
Doughty's decision follows a Monday ruling by Eastern District of Missouri District Judge Matthew T. Schelp, who granted a preliminary injunction to 10 rural states that attempted to block the mandate through the courts. Schelp's order, which affected those ten states alone, also suggested that plaintiffs would likely find success in their arguments asserting the CMS mandate was unlawful, arbitrary, and capricious. Both district judges were appointed by President Donald Trump.
As reported by UncoverDC, in November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered OSHA to temporarily halt its temporary emergency standard attempting to mandate that businesses with 100 or more employees receive one of the experimental COVID-19 shots or undergo weekly testing and masking. Doughty cited the appellate court's decision as "almost identical" to his in his ruling on Tuesday.
Adding to the current momentum of those opposed to the draconian vaccine mandates, a Kentucky District Court granted a preliminary injunction in Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky against Biden's vaccine mandate agenda among government contractors and those who do business with them. U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove in Frankfort, Kentucky, blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a regulation that new government contracts must include clauses requiring that contractors' employees get vaccinated.
Doughty's preliminary injunction will remain in place pending the court's final decision or another order from an appellate court or the Supreme Court.