Appeals Court Blocks Vaccine Mandate For US Government Workers

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An executive order from President Joe Biden mandating that all federal employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 was blocked by a federal appeals court Thursday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans blocked a vaccine mandate from the Biden administration, stating that the president does not have the same authority as the CEO of a private corporation to require employees to be vaccinated, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Biden issued the executive order mandating the vaccines for all executive branch employees in September 2021, following a similar mandate placed on the US military in August of the same year. The latter mandate was rescinded by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in January 2023, but not before 8,400 service members were forced out of service for refusing to comply, NBC News reported. (RELATED: Employees Fired For Refusing COVID Vaccine Labeled With ‘Problem Codes’ That Were Sent To The FBI, Legal Group Says)

The latest ruling for federal employees from the 16-judge appeals court reversed an earlier ruling from a three-judge 5th Circuit panel. That court initially upheld the mandate after a District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a nationwide injunction against the vaccine requirement for federal employees in January 2022.

Judge Andrew Oldham, who wrote the opinion for the appeals court, noted that the case would be argued before the court again at which time both sides would “have to grapple with the White House’s announcement that the COVID emergency will finally end on May 11, 2023,” The AP reported.

Since the latest ruling upholds the injunction issued by the District Court in Texas, it maintains the status quo for federal employees in regards to their vaccination requirements. The Biden Administration has claimed, though, that approximately 98% of those who would be affected by the ruling have already been vaccinated, according to the outlet.