HomeNewsTexas Judge Blocks Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Government Employees

Texas Judge Blocks Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Government Employees

by TK Sanders
(Andriy Onufriyenko via Getty Images)

A judge in Texas ruled that President Biden can not legally require vaccinations for federal employees, nor can he impose punishments for those who don’t comply. Last year, the White House tried to install various types of vaccination mandates under threat of federal repercussions via their safety arm, OSHA. Slowly but surely, different court systems are challenging or nullifying those mandates.

In the case of federal employees, Biden’s administration tried to demand vaccinations by Nov. 22, barring a religious or medical exemption. About 3.5 million citizens currently work for the federal government in some capacity.

What the Judge Said About the Mandate

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown made the ruling Friday. He said the question was whether Biden could “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.”

Then, Galveston-based Judge Brown said the federal government could adequately protect public health with the usage of masks and distancing. But, given the federal government’s 93 percent vaccination rate, the ruling only affects a small portion of the population. Symbolically, however, it stands as a major blow to the current administration’s vaccination agenda.

“We are confident in our legal authority,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in response to the judge’s ruling. The Justice Department said it plans to appeal the ruling.

Courts in other states have upheld the Biden-backed federal mandates.

The federal government has said that it will not punish employees with pending exemption requests. Judge Brown said that he made his ruling with the understanding that the government would begin punishing employees “imminently” who are non-compliant. Refusing to disclose vaccination status counts as compliance, as well.

The White House announced earlier this month that it wants regular COVID testing performed by all government agencies starting mid-February.

What Happens to Those Who Don’t Comply

Some government staff have received threatening letters outlining a two-week suspension if compliance isn’t met. According to one statistician within the Commerce Department, his letter said that his conduct “is very serious and will not be tolerated.” The letter also threatened eventual dismissal from the role.

Currently, the federal mandate only applies to employees working within the executive branch of government. Postal, judicial, and legislative workers have not yet received a mandate from the White House. Healthcare workers did receive a mandate, though, and it was held up by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

In December, a different federal judge blocked a third major vaccine requirement aimed at employees of federal contractors like airlines and manufacturers. With no federal mandates to consider, private sector companies must decide how they want to proceed on an individualized basis.

Some companies like Starbucks abandoned the requirements immediately; while others, like Michigan-based Carhartt, kept the mandate in place despite the Supreme Court’s block.