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Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors

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ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge in Georgia has blocked the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for federal contractors, in yet another legal defeat for the president.

"A Georgia district court has ordered the federal government to temporarily stop enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors. This nationwide halt is the result of our own lawsuit and marks the third of Biden’s vaccine mandates to be stopped by the courts," Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said Tuesday.

"We will continue to stand up for the rule of law to protect our state and our citizens from this unconstitutional and unprecedented federal overreach," Carr said.

The vaccine mandate was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 4 and would apply to any company that holds a contract to work with the federal government, comprising nearly a quarter of the U.S. workforce according to Bloomberg Law. Major U.S. firms including Lockheed Martin Corp., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.‘s Google, and General Motors Co. would be forced to have their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 without the option to refuse vaccination but submit to regular virus testing.

Several states filed legal challenges to Biden's order, claiming the president overstepped his constitutional authority with the mandate. Another federal judge in Kentucky granted a preliminary injunction against the order in a lawsuit involving Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio.

Arizona, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia are among other states that have filed lawsuits in federal court against Biden's mandate.

The vaccination requirements for federal contractors were part of a series of sweeping COVID-19 orders Biden issued to force Americans to get vaccinated or lose their jobs. A second mandate issued as an emergency order from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration required private companies with more than 100 employees to have their workers get vaccinated against COIVD-19 or submit to weekly testing. Any company that did not comply with the order would face substantial fines. Health care companies that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid were also required to have their workers vaccinated.

Lawsuits have been filed against each of these requirements in multiple courts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last month blocked the Biden administration from enforcing the OSHA mandate. Since then, the administration has complied with the court order, suspending enforcement of its vaccination requirements pending further litigation.

The mandates have also been protested by workers with federal contracts, who say the mandates are a violation of their constitutional rights.

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