Judge blocks vaccine mandate for federal contractors in 8 states

A federal district court judge in Georgia granted an injunction Tuesday that will temporarily halt President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

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In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Stan Baker noted among other things that states and state universities have billions of dollars in federal contracts, including employees at universities who work under federal grants.

The lawsuit was brought by the states of Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia; the governor of Georgia; the governor of Alabama; the governor of Idaho; the governor of South Carolina; the board of regents of the University System of Georgia; several other state officials and the Associated Builders and Contractors, a trade association.

The mandate originally required millions of contractors to get vaccinated by Wednesday, but the order deadline was pushed to Jan. 4.

It is now on hold awaiting an appellate court hearing.

Baker found that the states are likely to succeed in their claim that Biden exceeded authorization from Congress when he issued the requirement in September.

“The Court acknowledges the tragic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought throughout the nation and the globe,” wrote the judge. “However, 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.”

Last week, a federal judge blocked Biden’s vaccine mandate for health care workers nationwide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.