A federal judge in Missouri on Monday temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers in 10 states.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp granted a preliminary injunction barring the administration from enforcing the mandate while litigation continues in the case filed by a coalition of 10 state attorneys general.
Judge Schelp, a Trump appointee, ruled that the administration did not have the authority to issue the mandate requiring health care workers employed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to be vaccinated by Jan. 4.
“Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate, which Supreme Court precedent requires,” Judge Schelp wrote.
The judge also said the administration did not provide evidence as to why Mr. Biden’s Sept. 9 executive order for the mandate was necessary.
“The evidence does not show a rational connection to support implementing the vaccine mandate, the mandate’s broad scope, the unreasonable rejection of alternatives to vaccination, CMS’s inadequate explanation for its change in course, and its failure to consider or properly weigh reliance interests,” the 32-page ruling states.
The mandate is paused in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a news conference Monday that the federal government will obey the court’s ruling.
However, she said individual health companies are free to put in place their own vaccine requirements while the issue is litigated.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, applauded the ruling in a statement on Monday.
“This is a huge victory for healthcare workers in Missouri and across the country, including rural hospitals who were facing near certain collapse due to this mandate,” Mr. Schmitt said.
If the ruling is appealed, it will be decided by a three-judge panel from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which only has one Democrat-appointed judge out of 14.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
• Tom Howell contributed to this report.
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