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SALT LAKE CITY — A Georgia court issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit that Utah and six other states and state agencies filed against a vaccine mandate for federal contractors on Tuesday.
"The court's decision today should be welcome news for the millions of federal contractor employees who deserve the peace of mind to keep their jobs and make important health decisions without unconstitutional government coercion," said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes.
Reyes said he is confident in the legal arguments in this case, and other lawsuits against vaccine requirements if the Supreme Court decides to consider them.
"Again, this case is not about whether you should get a vaccine, it's about whether you should be forced to get one," Reyes said.
This lawsuit, which was filed in October, was the first of three that Utah is involved in, regarding three different federal measures to mandate vaccines. This lawsuit contests Executive Order 14042, which required contractors working on federal contracts to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The court's order explained that a separate lawsuit filed against the executive order in Kentucky issued a preliminary injunction last week stopping the order from becoming effective. It said that in both cases the rulings were not considering whether vaccines are effective but whether the action was legal.
"The court acknowledges the tragic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought throughout the nation and the globe. 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," the filing states.
The Southern District of Georgia also decided that the plaintiffs, including Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia; some of those state's governors and various state agencies are likely to succeed with their claim that President Joe Biden exceeded his authority when issuing the executive order.
The executive order would create a task force and that the task force would provide guidelines and COVID-19 safety measures which would be mandatory for any workplaces that are contractors or subcontractors to the federal government. The task force issued guidance requiring contractors to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 18, 2022, unless they qualify for an exemption, according to the order.
When the lawsuit was filed, Reyes issued a statement saying that with the order, Biden "egregiously oversteps his authority," and that the lawsuit was to remind the president about constitutional limits.
An injunction was also granted recently in a lawsuit filed by Utah and other states against the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requiring that health care workers be vaccinated. The defendants appealed that decision on Dec. 1.
The lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration order, requiring businesses with over 100 employees to enforce vaccines, also received an injunction, halting the enforcement of the order.