Louisiana federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health care workers nationwide

Judge Terry A. Doughty said 'indefinite states of emergency' pose 'grave risks' to civil liberties

A federal judge in Louisiana issued a nationwide preliminary injunction Tuesday against President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

Judge Terry A. Doughty in the U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana ruled in favor of a request from Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry to block an emergency regulation issued Nov. 4 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that required vaccines for nearly every full-time employee, part-time employee, volunteer, and contractor working at a wide range of healthcare facilities receiving Medicaid or Medicaid funding.

Louisiana was joined in the lawsuit by attorneys general in 13 other states.

Pharmacy technician Hollie Maloney loads a syringe with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine. 

Pharmacy technician Hollie Maloney loads a syringe with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine.  ((AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File))

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Doughty argued in his ruling that the Biden administration does not have the constitutional authority to go around Congress by issuing such a mandate.

"If the executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, two of the three powers conferred by our Constitution would be in the same hands," he wrote. "If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency.

"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," he added.

Noting that the case "will ultimately be decided by a higher court than this one," Doughty wrote, "However, it is important to preserve the status quo in this case. The liberty interests of the unvaccinated requires nothing less."

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Landry praised the ruling, saying in a statement: "I applaud Judge Doughty for recognizing that Louisiana is likely to succeed on the merits and for delivering yet another victory for the medical freedom of Americans. 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."

President Joe Biden speaks about the economy and his infrastructure agenda in the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington, Monday, July 19th, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden speaks about the economy and his infrastructure agenda in the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington, Monday, July 19th, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

"While our fight is far from over, I am pleased the Court granted preliminary relief against the President’s unconstitutional and immoral attack on not only our healthcare workers but also the access to healthcare services for our poor and elderly," Landry continued. "I will see this case through to the end – fighting every step of the way to prevent the federal government from imposing medical tyranny on our citizens and turning last year's healthcare heroes into this year's unemployed."

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Doughty's ruling echoes one from U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp, who issued a 32-page order on Monday blocking the Biden administration from enforcing their vaccine mandate on health care workers in 10 states.