A federal appeals court upheld President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all federal employees on Thursday, effectively reinstating a ‘jab-or-job’ choice for these workers.
While much of the nation is moving on from the pandemic, understanding that today’s coronavirus variants are largely producing milder symptoms and that prescribed mitigation efforts have minimal effect in preventing contraction, the courts and the federal government are living in an alternative universe it would seem.
The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court in a 2-1 ruling, ordering the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the federal mandate, according to ABC News. The network described the ruling as “a rare win for the administration,” reporting that the appellate court “said that the federal judge didn’t have jurisdiction in the case and those challenging the requirement could have pursued administrative remedies under Civil Service law.”
In a Sept. 9 executive order, Biden required vaccinations for all executive branch agency employees, with exceptions for medical and religious reasons.
“I have determined that ensuring the health and safety of the Federal workforce and the efficiency of the civil service requires immediate action to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce,” President Biden said at the time. “It is essential that Federal employees take all available steps to protect themselves and avoid spreading COVID-19 to their co-workers and members of the public. The CDC has found that the best way to do so is to be vaccinated.”
In January, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown issuing a nationwide injunction against the mandate. According to the White House, about 95 percent of federal workers were already in compliance with the mandate when the injunction was issued.
“The administration argued that the Constitution gives the president, as the head of the federal workforce, the same authority as the CEO of a private corporation to require that employees be vaccinated,” ABC News reported. “Lawyers for those challenging the mandate had pointed to a recent Supreme Court opinion that the government cannot force private employers to require employee vaccinations.”
The judges making up the majority were Clinton appointees, Judges Carl Stewart and James Dennis. The dissenting vote came from George H.W. Bush appointee Judge Rhesa Barksdale.
Somewhat ironically, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced a change to its guidance on matters related to the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, saying that people should now use their own judgment in deciding if and when to get a booster shot.
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