A.G. Moody taking judge’s refusal to block health worker vax mandate to higher court

By: - November 24, 2021 2:20 pm

Attorney General Ashley Moody attending the designation of Sen. Kathleen Passidomo as the next Senate President on Oct. 19, 2021. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has filed a notice of appeal from a federal trial court’s refusal to block the Biden administration’s plan to require health care providers receiving federal money to mandate that workers get vaccinated against COVID.

U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rogers in Pensacola rejected the state’s bid for a temporary restraining order on Saturday, ruling that the state failed to show it likely would prevail in the case or had demonstrated impending irreversible harm — legal prerequisites to such an order.

Moody, a Republican, announced her plan to appeal via her Twitter feed on Wednesday.

“I am appealing the decision in our CMS lawsuit that will devastate Florida’s health care system. As the federal vaccine deadline looms, we must continue to push back against @JoeBiden’s heavy hand,” Moody wrote.

“CMS” means the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a named defendant, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Moody’s lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s plan to require vaccines for workers in facilities receiving money from the centers.

A new rule requires workers to receive at least one vaccine dose by Dec. 6 and a second by Jan. 4.

Biden argues the move is necessary to protect patients against infection with COVID. Moody, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans in the Florida Legislature, argue it would infringe on workers’ freedom. Moody has likewise filed federal court challenges to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates for businesses with more than 100 workers and federal contractors.

The Legislature passed laws during a special session meant to countermand the federal mandates.

In her lawsuit, Moody argued the Biden mandate would drive vax-reluctant doctors, nurses, and other professionals to quit their jobs, endangering patients in its own way. Her legal arguments cited affidavits from a variety of agency heads.

Rodgers was unimpressed.

“In particular, the affidavits express opinions of agency heads who ‘estimate’ that they ‘may’ lose a certain percentage or a number of employees, or speculate as to the consequences they will suffer ‘if widespread resignations were to occur.’ However, such opinions, absent supporting factual evidence, remain speculative and may be disregarded as conclusory,” she wrote.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.