President Joe Biden's vaccine mandates have hit another roadblock. A federal judge in Augusta, GA, has blocked the administration from enforcing Biden's COVID-19 directive for employees of federal contractors nationwide.
It's the latest victory for Republican-led states pushing back against Biden's mandates.
The order came in response to a lawsuit from several contractors and seven states – Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia. It applies across the U.S. because one of the challengers to the order is the trade group Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., whose members do business nationwide.
U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker ruled that the states are likely to succeed in their claim that Biden exceeded authorization from Congress when he issued the requirement in September.
“The Court acknowledges the tragic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought throughout the nation and the globe,” wrote Baker, a Trump appointee. “However, even in times of crisis this Court must preserve the rule of law and ensure that all branches of government act within the bounds of their constitutionally granted authorities.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the Justice Department will defend the mandates in court. “We are confident in our ability, legally, to make these happen across the country,” she said.
Business leaders and elected officials praised the judge's ruling, calling it a "big win" against government overreach.
“This is a big win in removing compliance hurdles for the construction industry, which is facing economic challenges, such as a workforce shortage of 430,000, rising materials prices, and supply chain issues,” said Ben Brubeck, a vice president of the construction industry group.
Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted that the ruling will provide relief to workers “who were in fear of being forced to choose between this vaccine and their livelihood.”
Other Republican officials also praised the court ruling. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said the mandate was “just an outrageous overreach by the federal government.”
With Tuesday’s ruling, all three of Biden’s broad vaccine mandates affecting the private sector have been put on hold by courts. Other judges already issued a stay regarding one that applies to businesses with 100 or more employees and another for health care workers across the U.S.
Separately, Biden has imposed vaccine requirements for employees of the federal government and the military.
"We've heard from thousands of people in our states who don't want to take the COVID-19 vaccine for a number of reasons. Millions of people have already recovered from COVID and may have some level of natural immunity," Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said in a statement. "Others have an objection to the vaccine based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Some are being treated for cancers or auto-immune diseases and don't want to introduce a relatively new vaccine into that treatment. Some have serious adverse reactions to many vaccines. Some have heard about the possible side effects of the vaccine or long-term possible issues and are just wary of taking it right away."
Meanwhile, a second Democrat senator - Jon Tester of Montana - plans to vote for a Republican resolution in Congress that calls for overturning Biden's vaccine mandates.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has also said he will also vote for it.
Sen. Lankford said, "Read the tea leaves, President Biden. America's patience has run out with you trying to act like their dad and telling them what to do. Let Americans choose what is right for their health, their family, and their freedom."