Biden’s COVID vaccine rule for federal contractors was valid, US court rules
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden receives an updated coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine onstage in an auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, U.S. October 25, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
By Daniel Wiessner
(Reuters) – President Joe Biden had the power to require employees of federal contractors to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday, throwing out a judge’s ruling that had blocked the mandate in Arizona.
A panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the 2021 mandate that applied to millions of workers nationwide fell under the broad powers granted by the federal Procurement Act, which enables the president to adopt rules that promote economy and efficiency in federal contracting.
The decision came in a challenge to the mandate by the office of former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, on behalf of the state.
The court reversed a federal judge in Phoenix who blocked the mandate in Arizona last year. The judge had said allowing the vaccine requirement would grant the president “a breathtaking amount of authority.”
The decision creates a split with three other appeals courts that have said Biden, a Democrat, likely exceeded his authority and blocked the vaccine mandate in 13 Republican-led states.
The office of Arizona Attorney General Kristin Mayes, a Democrat who took office in January, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Department of Justice and the White House also did not respond to requests for comment.
The White House directed agencies in October not to seek to enforce the contractor mandate in light of several pending legal challenges and rulings blocking the requirement.
The U.S. Supreme Court last year blocked Biden’s separate mandate that businesses with 100 or more employees require workers to receive COVID-19 vaccines or undergo regular testing.
Last month, a New Orleans-based federal appeals court ruled that federal agencies could not enforce a requirement that government employees receive vaccines.