Texas judge blocks U.S. government from disciplining employees who failed to comply.
- U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown ruled on Friday that Joe Biden can’t require federal employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, Reuters reports.
- Judge Brown said the question was whether Biden could “require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment,” concluding that “under the current state of the law as just recently expressed by the Supreme Court, is a bridge too far.”
- Brown also said the government could protect public health with less invasive measures, such as masking and social distancing.
- He worried that the government was going to begin disciplining non-compliant employees imminently, arguing the mandate amounted to a “Hobson’s choice” between their “jobs and their jabs.”
- Judge Brown wrote in a 20-page injunction that the executive order “amounts to a presidential mandate that all federal employees consent to vaccination against COVID-19 or lose their jobs.” “Because the President’s authority is not that broad, the court will enjoin the second order’s enforcement,” he went on to say.
- “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,” the judge said.
- “The government has not shown that an injunction in this case will have any serious detrimental effect on its fight to stop COVID-19,” he added. “Moreover, any harm to the public interest by allowing federal employees to remain unvaccinated must be balanced against the harm sure to come by terminating unvaccinated workers who provide vital services to the nation.”
WHAT ELSE THE JUDGE SAID:
The case is 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,” Brown wrote, according to The Hill.
- Marcus Thornton, foreign State Department service officer and president of Feds for Medical Freedom, said their “fight is far from over” and his group will pursue “every lawful avenue available” to strike down the mandate, Government Executive reports.
- The group is expecting thousands of its members to join a march in Washington on Jan 23.
- “Today’s decision by Judge Brown is a victory for the thousands of men and women who want to serve their government without sacrificing their individual rights,” Thornton stated. “The 6,000-plus members of Feds for Medical Freedom want nothing more than to continue their service to this country without being subjected to unconstitutional mandates.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said 98% of federal workers are vaccinated or have sought medical or religious exemptions, claiming “We are confident in our legal authority,” in response to the judge’s ruling.
- Judge Brown is based in Galveston, Texas and was appointed by President Donald Trump.
- The Biden administration has already filed an appeal on the injunction, according to reports.
- Biden issued the mandate by executive order in September, but the Supreme Court last week struck down a Biden order that would have forced private sector employers with over 100 workers, along with the U.S. Postal Service, to test or vaccinate their employees for Covid-19.
- The federal employee case was brought by Feds for Medical Freedom, which filed three different lawsuits against the mandate, as well as an American Federation of Government Employees council that represents workers in the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Protective Service.