On Monday, a federal appeals court issued a ruling that said the Biden administration could not enforce its planned COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees of government contractors. The court issued the verdict.
Following the government’s argument, a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decided, with a vote count of 2-1, that this would enable presidents to unilaterally impose wide-ranging mandates on contractors, with the only limitation being an administration’s ability to tie such a measure to improving an economical and efficient system.
According to Judge Kurt Engelhardt’s decision, the President “may hypothetically demand that all employees of federal contractors drop their BMI below a specified number on the basis that obesity is a key cause to unhealthiness and absenteeism.”
The ruling in the lawsuit, which was brought up by the states of Louisiana, Indiana, and Mississippi, was a defeat for the Biden administration. The government maintained that the president could issue the order in accordance with the Procurement Act.
After the advisory was released the previous year, a district judge barred the nationwide enforcement of the vaccine mandate in December of the last year. The injunction issued by the lower court was limited by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in August so that it would only affect the parties who had challenged the mandate.
However, in October, the Office of Management and Budget instructed government agencies to refrain from taking any action to enforce the contractor vaccine mandate. The OMB made this request because active court orders prohibit enforcement “in certain locations and as to certain entities.”
The Hill has contacted the White House to obtain a statement. Judge James Graves, who disagreed with the decision made by his two colleagues, stated that Vice President Biden’s order was in line with what is permitted by the Procurement Act. He also pointed out that this decision marks the first time an executive order issued in accordance with the law has been overturned.
Graves argued in his dissenting opinion that “the majority conjures up the most extreme and implausible possibilities to deny the President his authority under the Procurement Act.”
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