Fifth Circuit Rules Biden’s Federal Employee Vax Mandate Illegal Under Federal Law

In a significant defeat for the Biden administration, the Fifth Circuit federal appeals court has ruled that President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees is illegal under federal law, Breitbart reports.

In September 2021, Biden issued Executive Order 14043 requiring 4.2 million federal employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for continued employment.

He claimed that he had the authority to do so under the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) as part of regulating workplace conditions and under his inherent power under Article II of the Constitution.

Several groups, including Feds for Medical Freedom and individual plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against the mandate, arguing that the president lacked the authority to issue such a mandate.

They sought a preliminary injunction to block the mandate while the case was ongoing.

Judge Jeffrey Brown of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted the injunction, stating that the president lacked the authority to issue such a mandate.

He issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the vaccine mandate.

The Justice Department appealed the decision, but a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit dissolved the injunction, stating that federal courts lacked jurisdiction to decide CSRA disputes like this one.

However, the full Fifth Circuit voted to rehear the case en banc, reinstating Judge Brown’s injunction while the appeal was being decided.

The full en banc Fifth Circuit issued its decision on Thursday, with Judge Andrew Oldham writing the majority opinion for a 10-6 decision.

Oldham explained why federal courts have jurisdiction over the challenge, noting that federal employees were scattered nationwide among virtually every federal agency.

He wrote that the CSRA authorizes the president to regulate workplace conduct, but not employees’ conduct in general, and that the president cannot require federal employees to submit to the vaccine as a condition of employment.

Brown also rejected the argument that Article II of the Constitution gives the president inherent power to require vaccines, reasoning that the government had not cited any previous example of a president invoking the power to impose medical procedures on civilian federal employees.

The case now returns to Judge Brown’s courtroom for additional proceedings, including determining whether the injunction will continue to block the mandate nationwide or be limited to the 6,000 members represented in the case.

The Justice Department may also petition the Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit’s decision.

The case is Feds for Medical Freedom v. Biden, No. 22-40043, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.