Judge Frank P. Nervo, presiding over the Supreme Court of New York, on Tuesday gave notice that the mandate was blocked, pending a court hearing scheduled for December 14.
Also on Tuesday U.S. District Judge Stan Baker in Savannah, Georgia, ruled Biden’s vaccine mandate requiring federal contractors to have employees fully vaccinated by January 18 was unlawful.
Baker said Congress did not clearly authorize the president to use procurement to impose a vaccine requirement on contractors that will have ‘vast economic and political significance.’
The ruling was the latest setback for President Biden, who announced a series of measures in September aimed at increasing vaccination rates to fight the pandemic that continues to kill more than 1,000 Americans daily.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had on October 20 ordered all city employees to have at least their first shot by October 29 or face being suspended without pay.
The ruling affected 160,500 employees – of whom 71 per cent were already vaccinated.
On November 1, de Blasio said the mandate had had the desired effect. The vaccination rate for city workers rose from 71 per cent on October 20 to 91 per cent by November 1, according to de Blasio.
But he later estimated 9,000 city employees were unvaccinated and forced onto unpaid leave. That caused consternation amid fears a shortage of police officers would further exacerbate the Big Apple’s well-documented crime problem.
It is unclear how many have since got vaccinated and returned to their jobs, and how many are now – thanks to Judge Nervo’s ruling – able to go back to work.
The case was brought by Anthony Marciano, who was represented by attorney Patricia Finn.
Finn has posted stridently anti-vax messages on her Facebook page, writing in one, from May 2, 2020: ‘Smash the WuWHO Flu #Plandemic.
‘I proved no measles epidemic in NY last year.
‘I smacked DOH trying to force vaccinate disabled kids in NY last week.
‘I can prove no Covid too. @patriciafinnesq @elonmusk #nycgop.’
Tweeting under the handle ‘The Good Health Lawyer New York’, Finn has strongly challenged vaccine mandates.
In February, she said she wanted to run for governor of New York.
De Blasio, who hands over to the newly-elected Eric Adams on January 1, on Monday issued yet another COVID mandate – this time forcing employees of all privately-owned companies to get vaccinated.
He also ordered that children aged 5-11 be included in the rule that forces restaurants, movie theaters and other public spaces to ask for proof of vaccination before entry.
It remains unclear how de Blasio plans to enforce the draconian measures – the first in the nation – and whether his successor will maintain the policy.
Meanwhile uniformed correctional officers were not included in the October 20 mandate, with their union being the most stridently anti-mandate of all, and only 46 per cent of employees being vaccinated. Their mandate went into effect on December 1.
On November 1, de Blasio said the mandate had had the desired effect.
Vaccination rates had risen to 85 per cent for the New York Police Department, 88 per cent for Emergency Medical Services, 83 per cent for the Sanitation Department and 77 per cent for firefighters, the mayor said.
‘Time and time again we put the mandates in place and they’ve worked,’ he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, a federal judge blocked the last of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for businesses, saying the government exceeded its authority with a requirement that millions of employees of federal contractors be inoculated.
With Tuesday’s ruling, all three of Biden’s broad vaccine mandates affecting the private sector have been put on hold by courts.
Judges already issued a stay regarding one that applies to businesses with 100 or more employees, and another for a vaccine mandate targeting health care workers across the U.S.
‘Abuse of power by the Biden administration has been stopped cold again,’ said Alan Wilson, a Republican who serves as South Carolina’s attorney general.
Judge Baker ruled that Executive Order 14042 – which on September 9 brought in the mandate for federal contractors – was not lawful.
‘The Court finds that Plaintiffs have a likelihood of proving that Congress, through the language it used, did not clearly authorize the President to issue the kind of mandate contained in EO 14042, as EO 14042 goes far beyond addressing administrative and management issues in order to promote efficiency and economy in procurement and contracting, and instead, in application, works as a regulation of public health, which is not clearly authorized under the Procurement Act 9,’ wrote Baker in his ruling.
‘While the Procurement Act explicitly and unquestionably bestows some authority upon the President, the Court is unconvinced, at this stage of the litigation, that it authorized him to direct the type of actions by agencies that are contained in EO 14042.’
The lawsuit was filed by the states of Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia as well as a trade group for building contractors.
Biden’s executive order applied to newly awarded contracts, although the government has been asking suppliers to agree to amend existing contracts to insert the vaccine requirement.
The contractor requirement was meant to improve efficiency among government suppliers by reducing outbreaks and was far-reaching, applying even to those working remotely.
Tuesday’s ruling by Baker, an appointee of President Donald Trump, shut down temporarily the last remaining business mandates that Biden had announced, as courts have found the government overstepped its authority in imposing the rules.
Those mandates were challenged by Republican governors, business associations and conservative civil liberty groups.
The litigation will likely continue for months and could revive the rules, which covered nearly 100 million workers, although some 83 per cent of U.S. adults have received at least one shot, according to government data.
A federal appeals court in New Orleans last month shut down a requirement that businesses with at least 100 employees get workers vaccinated or have them tested weekly.
A requirement that most healthcare workers get vaccinated was blocked last week.
The pandemic has killed more than 780,000 Americans and slowed economic growth and snarled supply chains.
Mandatory vaccination has become an increasingly popular tool in fighting the pandemic and has boosted U.S. vaccination rates.
Although the Biden administration’s plans have been frustrated in court, judges have upheld mandates by private employers, universities and state and local governments.
The Biden administration’s requirement for military and civilian government employees survived court challenges.