Federal Judge in Florida Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors


A Tampa federal judge on Wednesday backed Florida’s request to block a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for federal contractors.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday issued a 38-page decision in response to a request by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody for a preliminary injunction against the requirement.

Merryday ruled that Florida had demonstrated a “likely irreparable harm to sovereign interests absent a stay” due to the federal guidance requiring a vaccination requirement that is prohibited in Sections 112.0441 and 308.00317, Florida Statutes.

After the ruling, Moody stated, “Proud to secure an injunction in our case to stop @JoeBiden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. Floridians should not have to choose b/w the vaccine & their careers. There is still a lot of fight left in us & we will continue to push back against unlawful fed overreach.”

Governor Ron DeSantis’ spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, cited a quote from the ruling on her Twitter account: “The absence of evidence…suggests a ruse, a mere contrivance, superficially attempting to justify a sweeping, invasive, and unprecedented public health requirement imposed unilaterally by President Biden.”

Moody filed the case in October arguing the state would be injured because state agencies have contracts with the federal government.

The case stems from Executive Order 14042 issued on September 9, 2021 by President Joe Biden.  The Executive Order, titled “Ensuring Adequate Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors,” by a several-step process, requires each employee of a federal contractor or subcontractor (including each subcontractor of a subcontractor, subcontractor of a subcontractor of a subcontractor, and so forth) to become “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19.

The ruling argued that “Florida demonstrates a strong likelihood of immediate injury resulting from the inability to modify existing contracts and the possible denial of proposals currently submitted to the defendants.”

Judge Merryday stated that “the complaint sufficiently pleads a likelihood that Florida incurs an injury-in-fact that is traceable to allegedly unlawful conduct and that is redressable by the requested relief. Further, Florida overcomes the prudential hurdle for a state to sue the federal government. The complaint evinces Florida’s right to sue in a proprietary capacity based on contracting with the federal government.”

Merryday also noted that “Florida likely enjoys a sovereign interest capacity to sue the federal government. Florida asserts a procedural right to challenge executive action and likely suffers an injury based on an inability to enforce a duly enacted law. Executive Order 14042 directs stringent regulation, opposes state law, and risks widespread harm. Florida enjoys a strong likelihood of standing.”

Merryday was nominated by former President George Bush and has served as a federal judge since 1992.

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Steve Stewart is the Managing Editor and a contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected].

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