Appeals court upholds decision to temporarily block vaccine mandate for contractors in three states

An appeals court upheld a decision to temporarily block a vaccine mandate for federal contractors in three states in a ruling issued on Wednesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said in their ruling that they were denying a request by the government to stay an injunction on a vaccine mandate for federal contractors in three states — Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky — “because the government has established none of the showings required to obtain a stay.”

The court said it had concluded that the federal contractor vaccine mandate had implications for business and future contacts with the government. 

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The states are “imminently threatened in their proprietary capacities should they renew those existing contracts (thus triggering the mandate as well) or should they choose to bid on new contracts to which the mandate applies,” the court said in their ruling. “And if they chose not to renew such contracts given the contractor mandate, they could lose millions of dollars in funding from the federal government for critical state programs.”  

The appeals court also argued that the defendants had reasonably argued that the federal contractor vaccine mandate was infringing in an area that should have been left to states to decide.

“They have also plausibly alleged that the federal government has intruded upon an area traditionally left to the states — the regulation of the public health of state citizens in general and the decision whether to mandate vaccination in particular,” the court wrote.

“The contractor mandate thus likely implicates states’ power to make and enforce policies and regulations, as well as states’ traditional prerogative to superintend their citizens’ health and safety,” it added.

The decision by the court upholds an earlier injunction that a judge in Kentucky issued for all three states in November, according to The Associated Press.

Federal contractors are supposed to face a deadline of Jan. 18 to be fully vaccinated, though the mandate has been mired in legal challenges.