Judge blocks Biden COVID vaccine rule for health care workers in suit SC joined

·2 min read
Joshua Boucher

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that health care workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after the new year — a ruling that affects South Carolina after the state’s Republican attorney general joined a lawsuit.

Louisiana U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty issued the ruling Tuesday, a day after another federal judge did the same, but whose ruling applied to only 10 states.

“If the executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, two of the three powers conferred by our Constitution would be in the same hands,” Doughty wrote, as reported by Louisiana’s The Daily Advertiser. “If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency.

Though the ruling states the government cannot require vaccinations, hospitals and private employers still can.

South Carolina was one of 14 states that sued to stop the vaccine requirement, mandating health care workers be fully vaccinated by early January. In a separate stay earlier in November, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Louisiana stopped Biden’s requirement from going forward that mandated large companies get their employees vaccinated.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster also issued an order banning his Cabinet directors from enforcing the COVID-19 mandate, going as far to require state agencies to report to him should the federal government ask about the vaccination status of employees.

“The Biden Administration has struck out in court yet again,” said Alan Wilson, South Carolina’s Republican attorney general, in a statement Tuesday after the ruling. “That is because the president does not respect the rule of law but only the abuse of power. Our brave healthcare workers should not be subjected to such overreach by a president who wishes to rule by force.”

South Carolina’s large hospitals are still requiring employees get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Prisma Health said it would continue to require vaccinations for the health and safety of employees and patients. And the Medical University of South Carolina — which, in June, bought Providence Hospital in Columbia and other Midlands health care facilities — required as part of its hospital policy that its employees get vaccinated by June 30 or face being fired.

Five staff members at the Charleston-based health system were fired.

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