Louisiana v. Becerra, No. 21-30734 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Secretary of DHS and other federal government defendants moved to stay the district court's nationwide, preliminary injunction barring enforcement of one of the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates related to the staff of many Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, home-health agencies, and hospices.
The Fifth Circuit denied the motion insofar as the order applies to the 14 Plaintiff States, concluding that the Secretary has not made a strong showing of likely success on the merits in light of BST Holdings, L.L.C. v. OSHA, 17 F.4th 604 (5th Cir. 2021). In BST, the Fifth Circuit relied in part on the "major questions doctrine" in staying the COVID-19 vaccination mandate OSHA issued for employers of a certain size. In this case, the Secretary identifies meaningful distinctions between its rule for Medicare and Medicaid-funded facilities and the broader OSHA rule — the statutory authority for the rule is different; Medicare and Medicaid were enacted under the Spending Clause rather than the Commerce Clause; and the targeted health care facilities, especially nursing homes, are where COVID-19 has posed the greatest risk. Nonetheless, the court concluded that the first stay factor requires more than showing a close call. Therefore, the court could not say that the Secretary has made a strong showing of likely success on the merits. Furthermore, the other three factors for a stay — injury to the movant, injury to the opponent, and the public interest — are important but, regardless of the outcome of analyzing them, they will not overcome the court's holding that the merits of the injunction will not likely be disturbed on appeal.
Applying principles of judicial restraint, the court granted the stay as to the order's application to any other jurisdiction, concluding that the district court gave little justification for issuing an injunction outside the 14 States that brought this suit.