Federal judge halts Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors after legal challenge

The ruling comes after Utah and six other states challenged Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

(Ruth Fremson | The New York Times) President-elect Joe Biden displays his face mask as he speaks about the coronavirus pandemic and economy, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 16, 2020. "The administration has been a victim of events but it has also cooperated in its own victimization," writes The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.

A Georgia federal judge on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction halting President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

The preliminary injunction is a response to a lawsuit filed in October by Utah and six other Republican states challenging the Biden administration’s executive order requiring that federal contractors be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Utah has many state entities that are federal contractors,” the lawsuit said. “Utah will face irreparable harm if forced to comply.”

The preliminary injunction issued by Judge R. Stan Baker, a Trump appointee, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia Augusta Division prohibits the federal government from enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in the U.S.

“The Court acknowledges the tragic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought throughout the nation and the globe,” Baker wrote. “However, even in times of crisis this Court must preserve the rule of law and ensure that all branches of government act within the bounds of their constitutionally granted authorities.”

Baker also wrote that the mandate would have a “major impact on the economy at large, as it limits contractors’ and members of the workforce’s ability to perform work on federal contracts.”

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes celebrated the court ruling, adding he was confident the legal challenge would prevail if the Supreme Court decides to hear the case.

“The court’s decision today should be welcome news for the millions of federal contractor employees who deserve the peace of mind to keep their jobs and make important health decisions without unconstitutional government coercion,” Reyes said in a statement.

The other states involved in the lawsuit include Georgia, West Virginia, Idaho, Alabama, Kansas and South Carolina, according to court documents.