The Biden administration was blocked on Tuesday from enforcing two mandates requiring millions of American workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a key part of its strategy for controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp of the federal district court in St. Louis said in his 32-page order that the group of 10 states challenging the rule were likely to succeed on the merits of their case, as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) needed clear authorization from Congress to implement its vaccine requirement.

The 10 states Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming had sued the Biden administration, saying the vaccine mandate was unconstitutional.

Schelp — whom President Donald Trump nominated to the bench in 2019 — said the public would benefit from the ruling “because it would ensure that federal agencies do not extend their power beyond the express delegation from Congress.”

“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.

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.”

President Biden announced the vaccine requirement for health care workers as part of his administration’s efforts to boost vaccination rates to combat a spike in COVID-19 infections driven by the Delta variant. The administration estimated the rule would impact 2.4 million workers who had not yet gotten vaccinated.

Mr. Biden’s broader vaccine requirements have been a target of Republican-led states, who have so far seen early success in challenging his rules. A federal appeals court in New Orleans temporarily halted a vaccine requirement for workers at companies with more than 100 employees earlier this month.

Sources: 100 Percent Fed Up, Rueters, CBS News, Business Insider

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