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Vaccine mandate for health care workers blocked

I’d say this is getting ridiculous, but we’re well past that point.

A federal judge on Monday blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate on thousands of health care workers in 10 states that had brought the first legal challenge against the requirement.

The court order said that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid had no clear authority from Congress to enact the vaccine mandate for providers participating in the two government health care programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.

The preliminary injunction by St. Louis-based U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp applies to a coalition of suing states that includes Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. All those states have either a Republican attorney general or governor. Similar lawsuits also are pending in other states.

The federal rule requires COVID-19 vaccinations for more than 17 million workers nationwide in about 76,000 health care facilities and home health care providers that get funding from the government health programs. Workers are to receive their first dose by Dec. 6 and their second shot by Jan. 4.

The court order against the health care vaccine mandate comes after Biden’s administration suffered a similar setback for a broader policy. A federal court previously placed a hold on a separate rule requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers get vaccinated or else wear masks and get tested weekly for the coronavirus.

Biden’s administration contends federal rules supersede state policies prohibiting vaccine mandates and are essential to slowing the pandemic, which has killed more than 775,000 people in the U.S. About three-fifths of the U.S. population already is fully vaccinated.

But the judge in the health care provider case wrote that federal officials likely overstepped their legal powers.

“CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans. Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism,” Schelp wrote in his order.

That ruling doesn’t affect Texas, but this one does.

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers from going into effect nationwide next week after Texas and other states challenged the order.

Louisiana Western District U.S. Judge Terry Doughty’s ruling follows the same decision on Monday from Missouri U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp. However, Schelp’s ruling applied for only 10 states.

Doughty wrote in his decision that the mandate exceeds the Biden administration’s authority.

“If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency,” Doughty wrote.

I Am Not A Lawyer, and I couldn’t find any commentary out there about this, but just knowing that it was two Trump-appointed judges who made these rulings makes me look at them with extreme skepticism. (There are some other reasons for that, as the Daily Kos story indicates. I still want to see some serious lawyers weigh in on it.) The willingness of so many people to put the lives of so many other people in danger just boggles my mind.

On the moderately positive side, there was this.

A judge in Galveston has denied a bid from a group of federal workers seeking an injunction to halt enforcement of the White House’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, saying they had natural immunity from having been infected with the virus.

John J. Vecchione, senior litigation counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance in Washington, D.C., said his team argued it was “arbitrary and capricious” to require vaccinations across the board for all federal employees, because this particular group of workers was not any more dangerous to others than people who have been fully vaccinated. Vecchione says in court documents his clients’ immunity is “at least as robust and durable as that attained through the most effective vaccines.”

[…]

The 11 litigants include a high ranking lawyer at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from Frisco, a Navy technician from Robstown, an air traffic controller from St. Cloud, Fla. , a Georgia-based veterinary specialist from the Department of Agriculture, a special agent with the Secret Service from Springfield, Va. and a supervisory air marshal with Transportation Security Administration in Palos Verdes, Calif. .

The suit is directed at Dr. Anthony Fauci, others on the COVID response task force and representatives of other federal agencies tasked with enforcement or supervision of the mandate. The deadline for vaccinations was Nov. 22 and enforcement was set to begin some time after Nov. 29.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey V. Brown denied the workers request for a temporary injunction, saying they did not face irreparable harm if they complied with the mandate and they were unlikely to win their case on the merits. He noted that all but one of the plaintiffs were pursuing religious exemptions that would allow them to avoid the vaccine. The worker who did not seek an exemption works for ICE; the judge said the civil liberties lawyers had probably erred in failing to sue that agency.

Any win for sanity at the district court level feels like it’s written on sand these days, but I’ll take what I can get. Roy Edroso has more.

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8 Comments

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    I can’t believe that anyone supports in any way the stupidity of the Biden administration.

    The fact is that more people died of COVID in 2021 than in 2020. This, mind you, after the initial wave unfortunately was fatal to the most vulnerable and a large segment of the population recovered and had some level of immunity in 2021. Plus, vaccination began in December 2020, and by the time Biden took office, there had been a few million people already vaccinated.

    Since most people rely on the media to do their critical thinking for them, let me point out that Biden ran for office primarily on the promise to “crush this virus,” and, even with all of the advantages, has failed miserably. The public health measures have clearly not worked. The media won’t tell you, but I will: Biden has killed more people than Trump. CNN should bring Chris Cuomo back for one last encore in which he is forced to apologize to Trump, and then Cuomo is carted away never more to reappear on a screen.

    The big question is, why do people want Biden’s silly ideas enforced when they haven’t worked? Why does anyone have any faith in the public health experts, and the Biden administration at this point? Even Trump is better, by the numbers.

    The other conclusion that we could draw is that the COVID numbers are a huge exaggeration. All of the people who died with COVD, not of it. The people with cancer, the people who were 94 years old, the people with all of the other serious conditions who died, but tested positive. Either way, the entire response from public health is jacked up. Just the facts there.

  2. robert says:

    Biden also thought that both sides would try to come together to solve these issues, therein lies the problem.

    If you or a loved one needs surgery, who will you listen to for advice…politicians, social media, news reporters, physicians….??

    This is a health crisis, yet people are taking advice from the least qualified, smh

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    who are the least qualified who are giving advice?

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    Is there a difference between giving advice and forcing an intervention on people?

  5. Ross says:

    Jason, look in the mirror and you will see one of the least qualified. Nothing you’ve said on this topic has made sense. I will assume you are good at your job cleaning grease traps at restaurants.

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    Ross, nothing from the so called experts has made sense. You must wonder why it is crucial to wear a mask into a restaurant, for ten seconds, until you sit down, and then you can take it off for two hours, to eat, watch the game, drink, and chatter away…until it’s time to go, and you have to put it back on for ten seconds to walk out the door. Is it because the Covid virus is full of helium and floats up higher, making it safe to sit down? Do you ever wonder about the marching orders from your superiors? Do you ever wonder why Biden has killed more people than Trump, but we aren’t hearing about that? What does make sense to you? what have I ever said that didn’t make sense? I was the first person to advocate wearing your mask, when it seemed logical, but, then, when the Science showed it didn’t make much difference, I repealed my mask mandate.

  7. robert says:

    people like you, using “Freedom” as a pretext to not do what experts say help “mitigate” (reduce the risk), are killing the people, not Biden.

    You obviously know more than them and have your own “mandates”, smh

    BTW, I didn’t know that you clean grease traps at restaurants…how often should they be cleaned?

  8. Jason Hochman says:

    Freedom, once lost, won’t come back, and the so called experts are very self serving and greedy. They are exhibiting classic abusive behavior, (I know from having survived an abusive relationship) in which the abuser keeps pushing for more and more. Remember how we started with two weeks to flatten the curve? And you will tell the abuser, “I did that” and the abuser will push for more, and You will say, “I did what you told me.” And the abuser will say, I didn’t tell you to do anything…you voluntarily did that.

    If Trump was responsible for the deaths, why is Biden not responsible? I understand giving him a break because he is so badly demented, but still, it’s his fault, or else you should send Trump an apology.

    Grease traps need frequent cleaning. Health inspections demand it.