Florida court temporarily blocks vaccine mandate
Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF
A Florida court has granted a temporary injunction preventing the city of Gainesville, Florida, from forcing employees to comply with a vaccine mandate.
The court said that the city of Gainesville “did not put on any evidence, at all, at the injunction hearing” that would allow the court to consider whether the vaccine mandate “meets a strict scrutiny test, a rational basis test, or whether it meets any other standard.”
The city’s vaccine mandate would have required employees to be fully vaccinated or face possible termination by Oct. 30.
“Federal law holds that compelled physical intrusion into the human body is an invasion of bodily integrity that implicates significant, constitutionally protected privacy interests,” the court order said.
Employees who work for the city had filed a lawsuit to challenge its vaccine mandates, supported by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody.
“We welcome the court’s decision and congratulate the City of Gainesville employees on this victory,” the governor’s press secretary Christina Pushaw said in an emailed statement. “They took a courageous stand not only for their rights, but for everyone’s right to make their own private medical decisions without fear of losing their livelihoods.”
Pushaw highlighted testimony from a Gainesville firefighter who spoke at a Alachua County press conference last week with the governor. Johnathan Cicio pointed out that he and his fellow firefighters, who continued to serve their communities throughout the pandemic, are not anti-vaccination but are “anti-mandate,” adding, “We shouldn’t be forced to take a vaccination we don’t need.”
“Through all that time, we served on. But now we are being told that we don’t know what’s right for us. That we cannot make our own personal health choices,” he said. “We know. We’ve been there. We’ve been out there. Hundreds of us have had COVID and recovered, gaining natural antibodies. Many of us have immunity by exposure. And many still have gotten the vaccine.”
Republican attorneys general from 24 states threatened lawsuits last week against President Joe Biden if his vaccine mandate takes effect, the group said in a Thursday letter.
“Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive,” the group wrote. “If your Administration does not alter its course, the undersigned state Attorneys General will seek every available legal option to hold you accountable and uphold the rule of law.”
The attorneys general added, “Your vaccine mandate represents not only a threat to individual liberty, but a public health disaster that will displace vulnerable workers and exacerbate a nationwide hospital staffing crisis, with severe consequences for all Americans.”