A U.S. District Judge in Kentucky ordered a preliminary injunction Tuesday that prevents the enforcement of President Joe Biden’s federal contractor COVID-19 vaccination mandate in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
"Today, a federal court halted the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said. “This is a significant ruling because it gives immediate relief from the federal government’s vaccine requirement to Kentuckians who either contract with the federal government or work for a federal contractor.”
Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove said the issue was narrow in the case.
“This is not a case about whether vaccines are effective. They are,” Van Tatenhove wrote. “Nor is this a case about whether the government, at some level, and in some circumstances, can require citizens to obtain vaccines. It can.
“The question presented here is narrow. Can the president use congressionally delegated authority to manage the federal procurement of goods and services to impose vaccines on the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors? In all likelihood, the answer to that question is no.”
Biden announced in early September sweeping new COVID-19 vaccination mandates that would force millions of unvaccinated Americans, including federal contractors, to receive the vaccine, undergo weekly testing or lose their jobs.
Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee filed a lawsuit Nov. 4, claiming the federal contractor vaccination mandate was unlawful and unconstitutional, and it could cause a workforce loss that would be a significant concern for the economies of many states, which could lead to more supply chain issues.
Federal contractors account for one-fifth of the country’s workforce, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said $10.2 billion worth of federal contracts were performed in Kentucky in 2020, and $9.9 billion worth of federal contracts were held by vendors located in Kentucky, including numerous state agencies.
Ohio had $8.9 billion worth of federal contracts, and $12.5 billion worth of federal contracts held by companies in the state. In Tennessee, there were $10.2 billion worth of federal contracts and $10 billion worth of contracts held by vendors located in the state.
"This is not about vaccines, it's about the mandates," Yost said. "The judge's opinion clearly states that and it has been our position all along that the president cannot impose these mandates on the people."
A similar request for a temporary restraining order against the mandate was filed in Texas on Nov. 15.
“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. But right now, the enforcement of the contract provisions in this case must be paused.”
A federal judge blocked a COVID-19 vaccination mandate in Medicare and Medicaid facilities in 10 states earlier this week.