CONTRACTOR VACCINE MANDATE NEARLY CERTAIN TO HEAD TO SUPREME COURT, EVENTUALLY
While most of the action on the contractor vaccine mandate has been in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Administration also recently filed an appeal in the 9th Circuit appellate court over an Arizona district court judges ruling that issued a separate stay from enforcing the vaccine mandate. Major cases in two separate jurisdictions increase the chances that conflicting rulings will be issued, requiring the Supreme Court to step in. As discussed elsewhere, oral arguments were heard April 8th on the 11th Circuit case. While judges’ comments may not reflect how they will actually decide a case, many look to them in an effort to read the judicial tea leaves. The bottom line take-away is that the 11th Circuit may continue the stay, albeit on a 2-1 vote, meaning that the government would have to appeal to the Supreme Court for a resolution. The newer appeal in the 9th Circuit, however, may yield a different result. The 9th is traditionally known for being a fairly liberal court and, as such, may well side with the Administration on the contractor vaccine mandate issue. This creates a situation where two circuits issue conflicting rulings, increasing the chance that the Supreme Court would step in and resolve the matter once and for all. In the meantime, the nationwide stay on enforcing much of the mandate remains in place. This is important for contractors to know because there have been legal movements on the government employee mandate. There are reports of confusion as to whether those actions impact the contractor mandate. They do not. It is important that contractors watch this issue carefully. The timing of the cases sets up the possibility that, should a Supreme Court review be required, it would not happen until the fall of 2022.