A federal judge Tuesday issued an injunction striking down the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal contractors, saying the plaintiffs are “likely [to] succeed in their claim that the President exceeded the authorization given to him by Congress.”
The lawsuit was brought by Attorney General Alan Wilson and Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina, along with the attorneys general of Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Utah, and West Virginia and the governors of Georgia, Alabama, and Idaho, as well as other state entities.
The case revolves around the president’s authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (Procurement Act) and the authority it gives the president to issue public health mandates such as the one President Joe Biden issues in Executive Order (EO) 14042 to require all federal contractors to be vaccinated or face possible termination.
“The Court acknowledges the tragic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought throughout the nation and the globe,” Judge Stan Baker begins. “However, even in time 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.”
Furthermore, writes Baker, the government’s “‘strong interest in combating the spread of [COVID-19]’ … does not permit the government to ‘act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends.'”
Quoting legal precedent, Baker explains that the Procurement Act:
Grants the President particularly direct and broad-ranging authority over those larger administrative and management issues that involve the Government as a whole. And that direct presidential authority should be used in order to achieve a flexible management system capable of making sophisticated judgements in pursuit of economy and efficiency.
The judge issued a preliminary injunction on the mandate during the lawsuit’s pathway through the court system, concluding that the president exceeded his authority to issue such an EO.
The direct impact of EO 14042 goes beyond the administration and management of procurement and contracting; in its practical application (requiring a significant number of individuals across the country working in a broad range of positions and in numerous different industries to be vaccinated of face serious risk of losing their job), it operates as a regulation of public health.
“It will also 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,” Baker concluded. “Accordingly, it appears to have vast economic and political significance.”
The judge concluded that the Plaintiffs have shown a sufficient likelihood that the EO “brings about an enormous and transformative expansion in … regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization,” referencing a Supreme Court requirement that Congress must “‘speak clearly’ when authorizing the exercise of powers of ‘vast economic and political significance.'”
While Baker noted that courts typically afford the president deference when adjudicating his authority under the Procurement Act, he points out that “deference was expressly not intended to operate as ‘a blank check for the President to fill in at his will.'” [Emphasis in original].
Baker also pointed out that the Biden administration has neither cited a case that allows the president “to promulgate such a wide and sweeping public health regulation,” nor cited a case in which a court upheld an analogous action.
Concluding his determination of the merits, Baker explained that if the Biden administration were to have success in this case, it would give the president the “right to impose virtually any kind of requirement on businesses that wish to contract with the Government.”
“Following the Defendants’ logic and reason,” the judge writes, “the Procurement Act would be construed to give the President the right to impose virtually any kind of requirement on businesses that wish to contract with the Government … so long as he determines it could lead to a healthier and thus more efficient workforce or it could reduce absenteeism.”
In a press release regarding Baker’s issuance of the injunction, Wilson said, “Abuse of power by the Biden administration has been stopped cold again. The rule of law has prevailed and liberty is protected. When the President oversteps his authority the law is thankfully there to halt his misuse of power.”
The case is Georgia v. Biden, No. 1:21-cv-163 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.
Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.