A federal judge on Friday blocked a Biden administration order mandating that federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown ruled against the Biden administration, arguing that President Joe Biden lacked authority to “mandate that all federal employees consent to vaccination against COVID-19 or lose their jobs.”
“The court notes at the outset that this case is not about whether folks should get vaccinated against COVID-19—the court believes they should. It is not even about the federal government’s power, exercised properly, to mandate vaccination of its employees,” Brown wrote.
“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 judge said.
The Department of Justice intends to appeal Brown’s ruling, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A coalition of federal employees and contractors sued Biden and his administration in December over two executive orders, one mandating vaccinations for federal employees and the other mandating vaccinations for federal contractors. A federal judge in Georgia blocked the order dealing with contractors last month.
Brown blocked Biden’s order, relating to federal employees, claiming that Biden overstepped his authority as chief executive. The judge allowed, however, that the Biden administration did follow the correct administrative procedure in implementing the order, which the plaintiffs had also contested. Brown also found that issuing an injunction against the order is in the public interest, noting the “overbroad” approach the Biden administration had taken to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“While vaccines are undoubtedly the best way to avoid serious illness from COVID-19, there is no reason to believe that the public interest cannot be served via less restrictive measures than the mandate, such as masking, social distancing, or part- or full-time remote work,” Brown wrote. “The plaintiffs note, interestingly, that even full-time remote federal workers are not exempt from the mandate. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 will not be achieved by overbroad policies like the federal-worker mandate.”
In his Friday ruling, Brown cited a Supreme Court decision from last week striking down an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) order directing large employers to ensure that their employees are either vaccinated or tested regularly for COVID-19. As The Daily Wire reported at the time:
The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s emergency rule that would have forced large employers to vaccinate or regularly test their employees.
The decision, delivered Thursday, is a major victory for the mandate’s critics, including The Daily Wire which sued the Biden administration in November. The Daily Wire and others appealed to the Supreme Court to block the order after the Sixth Circuit lifted a stay put in place by the Fifth Circuit.
“OSHA’s COVID–19 Vaccination and Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, is stayed pending disposition of the applicants’ petitions for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and disposition of the applicants’ petitions for writs of certiorari, if such writs are timely sought. Should the petitions for writs of certiorari be denied, this order shall terminate automatically. In the event the petitions for writs of certiorari are granted, the order shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court,” the court concluded in a 6-3 decision.