Dec. 1 (UPI) — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked President Joe Biden’s nationwide vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty in the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction stating the Biden administration does not have the authority to institute such a mandate without approval by Congress.
“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million healthcare workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” Doughty wrote. “It is not clear that even an act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional.”
The ruling essentially expands an order issued by U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in the Eastern District of Missouri that blocked the mandate in Missouri and nine other states.
Both judges were appointed by former President Donald Trump.
The mandate for approximately 76,000 providers, covering 17 million healthcare workers across the country, requires all eligible staff to have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 6, and two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or the one dose of Johnson & Johnson, to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.
Doughty acknowledged the potential for an appeal by the government, stating that the matter will “ultimately be decided by a higher court than this one.”
“During a pandemic such as this one, it is even more important to safeguard the separation of powers set forth in our Constitution to avoid erosion of our liberties,” Doughty wrote.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who led the challenge to the mandate along with 13 other states, applauded the ruling in a statement Tuesday night.
“While Joe Biden villainizes our healthcare heroes with his ‘jab or job’ edicts, I will continue to stand up to the president’s bully tactics and fight for liberty,” he said.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued a statement addressing the need for the mandate in response to the court decisions.
“While we cannot comment on the litigation, CMS has remained committed to protecting the health and safety of beneficiaries and health care workers,” the agency said. “The vaccine requirement for health care workers addresses the risk of unvaccinated health care staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation’s health care system.”