U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown of the Southern District of Texas, a Trump appointee, ruled that the regime had no authority to require some 3.5 million federal workers and contractors to get the jab if they don't want it.
“The President certainly possesses ‘broad statutory authority to regulate executive branch employment policies,'” Brown said in his ruling before referencing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the mandate for private businesses with more than 100 workers.
“But the Supreme Court has expressly held that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is not an employment regulation. And that means the President was without statutory authority to issue the federal worker mandate," Brown wrote.
“The court notes at the outset that this case is not about whether folks should get vaccinated against COVID-19 — the court believes they should,” the judge said.
“It is not even about the federal government’s power, exercised properly, to mandate vaccination of its employees,” he said. “It is instead 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. That, under the current state of the law as just recently expressed by the Supreme Court, is a bridge too far.”
Brown also noted that his ruling had nothing to do with whether or not Americans should be vaccinated for COVID-19 or Executive Branch authority writ large.
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed in December by a group called Feds for Medical Freedom. On its website, the group notes: “We represent federal employees and contractors who have devoted their professional lives to service. They have been on the front lines of the pandemic, continuing to serve their country no matter the risk."
“From fighting terrorism, prosecuting criminals and protecting our borders; to protecting our environment, building our economy and supporting our farmers, these federal employees only want to be treated fairly in return for their service,” the site's mission statement continued.
“They are asking their government and their employer to give them more consideration than to fire them from their jobs after years of dedicated service because of their health conditions or medically informed decisions,” the group said. “Just as federal employees work every day to ensure the laws are applied fairly to their fellow citizens, so should the laws be applied fairly to federal workers."
Federal agencies had already begun implementing the mandate and some had even moved to suspend workers who had not yet gotten a vaccine. Brown's ruling will stay those suspensions and other enforcement actions, at least for the time being.
In arguing against the vaccine mandate for private businesses, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) told the Supreme Court that the mandate by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA),"sweeping regulatory dictate," will "irreparably injure the very businesses that Americans have counted on to widely distribute COVID-19 vaccines and protective equipment to save lives—and to keep them fed, clothed, and sustained during this now two-year-long pandemic."
During oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, remarked that it's hard to imagine the 1970 law governing OHSA "gives free reign to the agencies to enact such broad regulation."
In its 6-3 ruling, the court noted that the law "empowers the Secretary to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures."
"Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most," the Court ruled. "COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather. That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases."
Biden is picking up where his former boss, Barack Obama, left off: Trying to play king instead of being a president with limited, enumerated authorities.