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A U.S. appeals court on Thursday reinstated President Biden’s executive order requiring federal employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19, nearly three months after a lower court halted enforcement of the mandate.
A Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel issued a 2–1 ruling lifting an injunction issued by a U.S. district judge in Texas in January, and it ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the mandate.
The preliminary injunction issued in January came months after the White House announced that 95 percent of federal workers had already complied with the mandate.
The mandate for federal workers was handed down in September. More than 3.5 million federal workers were required to get vaccinated by November 22 — without the option to test out of the vaccine requirement. Workers could be exempted from the mandate only if they had applicable religious or medical exemptions.
Judge Jeffrey Brown ruled in January that a lawsuit filed by Feds for Medical Freedom was likely to succeed at trial and issued an injunction stopping the government from enforcing the requirement.
“This case is not about whether folks should get vaccinated against COVID-19 — the court believes they should,” Brown wrote in a 20-page ruling. “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.”
When the case was argued before the Fifth Circuit last month, Biden-administration lawyers argued that the Constitution gives the president the same authority as the CEO of a private corporation to require that employees be vaccinated because the president acts as the head of the federal workforce, the Associated Press reported.