A federal judge in Texas issued an injunction on Friday blocking President Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide. In a 20-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown said the Biden Administration had no legal authority to impose a sweeping vaccine mandate on federal employees.
“This case is not about whether folks should get vaccinated against COVID-19 — the court believes they should,” Brown wrote. “It is not even about the federal government’s power, exercised properly, to mandate vaccination of its employees. It is instead about whether the president can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment. That, under the current state of the law as just recently expressed by the Supreme Court, is a bridge too far.”
“The Supreme Court has expressly held that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is not an employment regulation. And that means the President was without statutory authority to issue the federal worker mandate,” he added.
Brown said without an injunction, federal workers who have not gotten vaccinated or received a religious or medical exemption could face suspension or other negative consequences.
The ruling from Brown is not a final ruling on the mandate. It simply blocks the policy from being enforced while the litigation is pending. The Biden Administration late Friday filed a notice of appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fifth Circuit would keep the injunction in place, or lift it. If it isn’t lifted, the Biden Administration could take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The lawsuit was initiated by Feds for Medical Freedom, a coalition that represents federal employees and contractors who “have devoted their professional lives to service.”
In a motion for an injunction, plaintiffs said Biden “acted beyond his lawful delegated authority” in issuing the mandate. Defendants said the orders were designed to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and fit “comfortably within the President’s broad authority to oversee the Executive Branch workforce.”