Last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Biden administration’s motion to stay a lower court’s injunction against a COVID-19 vaccination mandate applicable to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. The injunction covered companies in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, while a different federal court injunction applies nationwide. The mandate was put into place through an executive order that cited the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act as the source of authority for requiring employee vaccinations.
In a 2-1 decision, a Sixth Circuit panel refused to vacate the stay, concluding that the vaccine mandate is beyond the scope of powers granted to the executive branch under the statute. In addition, the government was unable to demonstrate irreparable harm resulting from the stay, given that the Biden administration had been in office for months before it viewed the need to issue the executive order.
This decision probably reduces the chances that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will intervene to reverse the nationwide injunction issued in that case. Unless the full Sixth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court agree to hear the decision, the federal contractor vaccination mandate may never take effect.