Texas federal judge temporarily blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal employees

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A federal judge in Texas Friday blocked the federal government from enforcing President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees, arguing that he didn’t have the authority to do so “with the stroke of a pen and without input from Congress.”

Biden has pushed several different iterations of vaccine mandates in recent months, including one for large businesses which the Supreme Court blocked and another for healthcare workers which it allowed to go into effect. 

Judge Jeffrey Vincent Brown of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Friday ruled against the administration on a separate mandate generally applying to federal employees and federal contractors. 

“While vaccines are undoubtedly the best way to avoid serious illness from COVID-19, there is no reason to believe that the public interest cannot be served via less restrictive measures than the mandate, such as masking, social distancing, or part- or full-time remote work,” Brown wrote. “Stopping the spread of COVID-19 will not be achieved by overbroad policies like the federal-worker mandate.”

President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 vaccination program during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, July 6, 2021, in Washington. A Texas federal court ruled against two of his mandates Friday. 
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The ruling from Brown Friday is not a final ruling on the policy. It simply blocks the mandate from being enforced while the litigation is pending. 

The Biden administration immediately Friday filed a notice that it plans to appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Samantha Ervin, left, a pharmacist at the Upper Tanana Health Center, administers the second COVID-19 vaccine shot to Maggie Roach Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Tok, Alaska. 
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

A ruling from the Fifth Circuit could potentially then be appealed to the Supreme Court.

A group called Feds For Medical Freedom is behind the case, which also challenged a vaccine mandate for federal contractors. But the judge did not rule on that mandate because it is already subject to a nationwide injunction. 

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