WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s demand that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 was met Thursday by a federal appeals court.
In a 2-1 ruling, a panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned a lower court and ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the mandate.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown, who was appointed to the District Court of the Southern District of Texas by President Donald Trump, had issued a nationwide ban on the claim in January.
When the case was brought before the 5th Circuit last month, administration attorneys had noted that district judges in a dozen jurisdictions had rejected a challenge to the vaccine requirement for federal workers before Brown ruled.
US President Joe Biden speaks before signing HR 3076, Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, during a ceremony in the State Dining Room in the White House in Washington, DC, on April 6, 2022. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) ( Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP v
The administration claimed that the constitution gives the president, as head of the federal workforce, the same authority as the CEO of a private company to require employees to be vaccinated.
Lawyers for those challenging the mandate had pointed to a recent Supreme Court ruling that the government cannot force private employers to require employee vaccinations.
Thursday’s ruling was a rare victory for the administration in the 5th Circuit, with 17 active judges dominated by Republicans, including six Trump nominees.
Judges Carl Stewart and James Dennis, both nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton, were in the majority. Judge Rhesa Barksdale, nominated by President George HW Bush, was dissenting, saying the relief sought by the challengers did not fall under the state reform law cited by the government.