NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana has blocked a federal mandate requiring healthcare workers to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Employees at hospitals that receive federal funding were facing a December 6 deadline to get the first dose or potentially lose their jobs.
The Biden administration has argued that the rule is needed to slow the spread of the virus among millions of workers and Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Tuesday – U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe ruled the administration overstepped its authority.
Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino says the mandate did not go through the typical notice and comment process that administrative law requires.
“Promulgation of these sorts of sweeping administration regulations is really akin to lawmaking,” Ciolino said. “Of course, under Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, only Congress can make laws, not the administrative branch.”
The lawsuit was led by Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and joined by 13 other states,
But Judge Doughty added a nationwide injunction in his ruling.
LA Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill is grateful the judge acted quickly.
“It would have affected thousands of people’s jobs, Murrill said. “It also would have affected thousands of services and jeopardized services in our Medicaid program.”
Murrill added that the mandate put the state in the position of having to enforce the rule or lose $16 billion in Medicaid funding.
“We aren’t against vaccination,” Murrill said. “We are against coercion.”
If Doughty's ruling is contested, it would head to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The court has already blocked President Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 workers.
“It’s a virtual certainty the Fifth Circuit will uphold the decision,” Ciolino said.
The Biden administration is expected to appeal the ruling.
For now, private medical providers in Louisiana can still require vaccines as a condition of employment.
The Louisiana Supreme Court is expected to hear a pair of cases over a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for employees at Ochsner Health facilities in Lafayette and Shreveport.
The high court is expected to take up the matter next Tuesday.