Last year, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued a nationwide injunction against President Biden’s federal contractor COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Executive Order 14042. On Aug. 26, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision narrowing the scope of that injunction, holding it applies in only seven states. The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that President Biden likely exceeded his authority under the Procurement Act when he directed executive agencies to enforce the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. While the Eleventh Circuit agreed the plaintiffs were entitled to a preliminary injunction, the extension of the injunction beyond the plaintiffs to all contractors and subcontractors nationwide was overbroad.
The injunction at issue in this case now only protects contractors and subcontractors against federal enforcement in the seven plaintiff states — Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia — as well as protects members of the Associated Builders and Contractors, a national construction trade group that had intervened as a plaintiff.
By eliminating the nationwide injunction, the opinion brings related litigation across the country back into focus. Contractors again find themselves closely following legal developments as they navigate a patchwork of enforcement statuses across the country. As a result of this opinion and injunctions issued in other cases, the Executive Order remains enjoined in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
While the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion dismantled the nationwide scope of the injunction as it pertained to contracts, it left in place a nationwide prohibition on requiring COVID-19 vaccination as part of solicitation language. As a result, the federal government may not consider whether a bidder is subject to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate when deciding who should receive a contract, so long as any plaintiff in this case belongs to the pool of bidders.