WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – The Biden administration urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to revive President Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and reverse lower court orders blocking the rule in around half of the country.
The Biden Justice Department filed two emergency petitions Thursday evening asking the high court to lift injunctions against the mandate in 24 states while challenges brought by two groups of Republican-led states play out in court.
Biden’s mandate for healthcare workers, issued last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), requires more than 17 million workers to get their first shot by December 6 and to be fully jabbed by January 4. Healthcare facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs risk losing federal funding if they don’t enforce the policy.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly sided in favor of vaccine requirements. Earlier this week, the justices refused to block a mandate for healthcare workers in New York that precludes religious exemptions, after declining to strike down a similar policy in Maine last month.
Justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas dissented in both cases.
The Biden administration’s healthcare worker mandate has faced a string of setbacks dealt by conservative federal judges in recent weeks.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Louisiana blocked the rule nationwide in November, acting on a lawsuit brought by a coalition of 14 Republican states. A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals cut back that order on Wednesday, however, leaving it in place only for the states that sued.
The three-judge panel, made up two Obama appointees and one appointee of President George W. Bush, nevertheless said that the administration has not demonstrated that the CMS mandate is lawful.
A federal district judge in Missouri also blocked the mandate for ten states late last month, in a decision that another appeals court upheld on Monday.
“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,” U.S. District Judge Matthew T. Schlep ruled. “Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact the this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate, which Supreme Court precedent requires.”
Both Schlep and Doughty were appointed by President Donald Trump.
The lower court rulings temporarily halt Biden’s vaccine requirements for healthcare workers from taking effect in 24 states: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia, and Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
A Texas judge granted the Lone Star state a separate injunction Wednesday.
“A federal agency has no power to act absent Congressional power conferring it such authority,” wrote U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas Amarillo.
CMS announced last month that would suspend enforcement of the mandate while it remains under injunctions. The agency has not said whether it will seek to enforce the rule in the 25 states where it is now allowed to take effect.
Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for private businesses and federal contractors remain blocked across the country.
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