Appeals court limits reach of nationwide injunction against Biden's healthcare worker vax mandate

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals effectively reinstated the federal mandate for more than half of the country.

Updated: December 15, 2021 - 5:25pm

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The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday scaled back the scope of a court ruling blocking President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate on healthcare workers nationwide, limiting the injunction's application instead to 24 states, while permitting the enforcement of the Biden mandate in more than half of the country.

A Louisiana federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on this case brought by a coalition of 14 states last month. The ruling stopped the mandate nationwide.

That decision was then appealed. The appeals court's six-page ruling narrowed the nationwide injunction to apply only in the 14 states that sued: Louisiana, Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

Last month, a federal judge ruled that the vaccine mandate needed to be halted in ten states that sued in Eastern District of Missouri.

Now, the healthcare worker vaccine mandate is blocked in 24 states, but can still be enforced in 26 states.

In the most recent decision, the court took issue with a nationwide injunction, writing, "The district court here gave little justification for issuing an injunction outside the 14 States that brought this suit."  

"Such injunctions at times can constitute 'rushed, high-stake, low-information decisions,' while more limited equitable relief can be beneficial," the appeals court added.

This case is State of Louisiana et al v. Xavier Becerra et al, No. 30734, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.