Trump Appointee Blocks a Biden Vaccine Mandate

Judge issues injunction, ruling requirement for federal workers exceeds president's authority
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 21, 2022 2:44 PM CST
Judge Blocks Mandate for Federal Employees
President Biden speaks Friday in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Friday in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – A US judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction on Friday barring the federal government from enforcing President Biden's requirement that federal workers without qualifying medical or religious exemptions be vaccinated against COVID-19. Judge Jeffrey Brown, who was appointed to the bench for the Southern District of Texas by former President Trump, ruled that opponents of Biden's vaccination mandate for federal employees were likely to succeed at trial and blocked the government from enforcing the requirement, the AP reports.

Biden announced in September that more than 3.5 million federal workers were required to undergo vaccination, with no option to get regularly tested instead, unless they secured approved medical or religious exemptions. The requirement took effect in November, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that 98% of federal workers are vaccinated. "We are confident in our legal authority here," she added. Those out of compliance with the policy were referred to counseling and could be terminated under an executive order signed by Biden.

Brown wrote that at issue was 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." He added, "That, under the current state of the law as just recently expressed by the Supreme Court, is a bridge too far." The Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling. The suit was brought by the group Feds for Medical Freedom. (The Supreme Court issued a split decision on Biden mandates.)

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