A federal court in Kentucky has temporarily stayed the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors in three states.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove, who serves in the Eastern District of Kentucky, issued a preliminary injunction on Nov. 30 against President Joe Biden’s mandate that calls for all federal contractors and subcontractors to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 18.
The ruling applies to Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, the three states that were plaintiffs in the case.
“This is not a case about whether vaccines are effective. They are. Nor is this a case about whether the government, at some level, and in some circumstances, can require citizens to obtain vaccines. It can,” Van Tatenhove wrote.
Van Tatenhove goes on to say that the question put before him is narrow in scope: Whether Biden had the authority to impose vaccines on the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors.
“In all likelihood, the answer to that question is no,” Van Tatenhove concluded.
The 29-page opinion states that the president “exceeded his authority” under the Federal Property Administrative Services Act (FPASA), which authorizes the president to prescribe policies or directors considered necessary to promote economy or efficiency regarding federal procurement and supply.
“The FPASA was enacted to promote an economical and efficient procurement system, and the Defendants cannot point to a single instance when the statute has been used to promulgate such a wide and sweeping public health regulation as mandatory vaccination for all federal contractors and subcontractors,” Van Tatenhove wrote.
Van Tatenhove stated that the vaccine mandate affects contractors and subcontractors in all states, but noted that nationwide injunctions would make every case a national emergency, and that district courts should allow legal questions to “percolate through the federal court system.”
“Once again, the Court is asked to wrestle with important constitutional values implicated in the midst of a pandemic that lingers,” Van Tatenhove wrote. “These questions will not be finally resolved in the shadows. Instead, the consideration will continue with the benefit of full briefing and appellate review.”
The ruling is the latest against Biden’s efforts to increase vaccinations among workers. A New Orleans-based U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its decision to stay the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency temporary standard that would enforce Biden’s executive order calling for companies with 100 or more employees to vaccinate their workers or have them undergo regular testing.