A federal judge has temporarily blocked vaccine mandates for health workers in the 10 states which had filed a lawsuit against the government: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Judge Matthew Schelp ruled that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) could not enforce the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandate because they had not been granted authority to do so, nor did they have the proper evidence to convince the court of the necessity of the mandate.

The court order states that “the nature and breadth of the CMS mandate requires clear authorization from Congress – and Congress has provided none… It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened.”

The ruling details the major economic and political implications of this mandate and, given its magnitude, the extensive steps that would have to be taken to grant CMS the proper authorities to impose this mandate.

Judge Matthew Schelp

“CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans… Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism,” the ruling states, “The independent power of the States [] serves as a check on the power of the Federal Government: by denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.”

The Judge adds, “a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front”, quoting from 1991’s Gregory vs Ashcroft ruling.

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This ruling also dismisses the Biden administration’s claim that this mandate is an emergency measure, pointing out that more than ten months before the CMS mandate, two vaccines had been authorized under Emergency Use Authorization, and one was FDA approved over two months prior to the mandate. “[A]gency’s stated reason of  “protecting the public safety” was insufficient to waive notice and comment requirement,” states the ruling, “… and CMS’s evidence shows COVID no longer poses the dire emergency it once did.”

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Judge Schelp ruled that there was not enough evidence of a need for emergency measures to be taken since COVID no longer poses an extreme threat like it did early on. He also wrote that requiring “hesitant individuals” to get the vaccine without taking their opinions into account completely undermines the democratic process.

Finally, the Judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence that vaccination status has a direct impact on the spread of COVID in the relevant healthcare facilities, as admitted by CMS itself. The Judge concluded that “CMS significantly understates the burden that its mandate would impose on the ability of healthcare facilities to provide proper care, and thus, save lives”.

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