President Joe Biden was dealt another blow Friday when a federal judge temporarily halted his administration’s vaccine mandate for federal employees.
According to Forbes, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Vincent Brown of the Southern District of Texas handed down an injunction halting the mandate.
A group of federal employees and contractors filed a lawsuit last month challenging the administration’s mandate that all federal workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
In December, U.S. District Judge Stanley Baker of the Southern District of Georgia blocked the mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors.
The action on Friday by Brown — an appointee of former President Donald Trump — extended the injunction to other federal employees.
The judge implied in his ruling he might have let the mandate for federal employees stand if Biden had gone through Congress. Instituting the mandate “with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress … is a bridge too far,” Brown wrote.
“Regardless of what the conventional wisdom may be concerning vaccination, no legal remedy adequately protects the liberty interests of employees who must choose between violating a mandate of doubtful validity or consenting to an unwanted medical procedure that cannot be undone,” he said.
According to Forbes, the Biden administration has issued vaccine mandates pertaining to federal employees, federal contractors, large private businesses and health care workers.
Of those, only the mandate for health care workers remains in effect after the other three were either blocked or halted in court.
On Jan. 13, the Supreme Court blocked the mandate for private employers with more than 100 employees.
According to Forbes, the court said that because COVID-19 is a “universal risk” instead of just a “workplace risk,” the vaccine mandate was outside the purview of “workplace conduct.”
“The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.
In his decision halting the mandate for federal employees Friday, Brown said he had used that “same logic” and that Biden “cannot require civilian federal employees to submit to the vaccine as a condition of employment.”
However, the same day that the Supreme Court blocked the private business mandate, it allowed the mandate for health care workers to stand. This contrasted lower courts that had blocked it in 24 states, Forbes reported.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the dissent and said the Biden administration did not have the authority “to force healthcare workers, by coercing their employers, to undergo a medical procedure they do not want and cannot undo.”
As for the mandate for federal contractors, the district judge’s injunction has been appealed.
While other legal cases have been brought against the mandate for federal employees, Brown said the arguments in those cases had “fallen short.”