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5th Circuit Reverses National Vaccine Mandate Injunction

This GT Alert covers the following:

  • Fifth Circuit allows vaccine mandate to move forward as to any state not a party to Louisiana litigation and not previously enjoined.
  • Cites disfavor of “national injunctions” and pending lawsuits in other territories.
  • Mandate still enjoined in AL, AK, AZ, AR, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, ND, OH, OK, SC, SD, UT, WV, and WY.
  • May be enforced in any other jurisdiction.

On Dec. 15, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed a nationwide injunction put into place by the Western District of Louisiana on Nov. 30, 2021. The district court banned the enforcement of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 vaccine mandate finding, among other things, the mandate did not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act. Although 14 states were parties to the matter, the court granted the injunction as to any state that was not a party to the lawsuit and was not previously enjoined by the Eastern District of Missouri’s Nov. 29 decision in Missouri v. Biden.

Refusing to stay the injunction as to all parties and noting the secretary of health and human services may not ultimately prevail in lifting the ban as to the 14 plaintiff states, the Fifth Circuit ruled the secretary likely would prevail in limiting the effect of the injunction to only the states that had sued. Noting the Supreme Court’s claimed displeasure with national injunctions and that the propriety of the mandatory injunction was already being litigated in a number of jurisdictions, with a federal district court in Florida upholding the vaccine mandate, the court limited the injunction to only the 14 party states.

The end result is that the injunction on enforcement of the CMS vaccine mandate remains in place as to the 14 states who were parties to the litigation: Louisiana, Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. The CMS vaccine mandate is also enjoined for the time being in the 10 states litigating in the District of Missouri: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Because certain deadlines for vaccination under the CMS have already passed, the secretary may issue new deadlines as to the remaining states and territories where the vaccine mandate is not preliminarily enjoined and thus may go into effect.

For more information and updates on the developing situation, visit GT’s Health Emergency Preparedness Task Force: Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Business Continuity Amid COVID-19 page.