Federal Court Finally Blocks Federal Vaccine Mandate

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AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Another card in the COVID House of Cards has been tipped over. President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal workers has been blocked by the same federal appeals court that first upheld it.

From the Associated Press:

President Joe Biden’s order that federal employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 has been blocked by a federal appeals court.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, in a decision Thursday, rejected arguments that Biden, as the nation’s chief executive, has the same authority as the CEO of a private corporation to require that employees be vaccinated.

The ruling from the full appeals court, 16 full-time judges at the time the case was argued, reversed an earlier ruling by a three-judge 5th Circuit panel that had upheld the vaccination requirement. Judge Andrew Oldham, nominated to the court by then-President Donald Trump, wrote the opinion for a 10-member majority.

As my colleague Jeff Charles wrote back in January of 2022:

The original federal employee mandate took effect in November [2021] as part of a series of measures the Biden administration imposed ostensibly to stop the spread of the coronavirus. From the moment the president announced he would be enacting these rules, he received pushback, largely from the right. Forbes noted that “[t]he controversial mandates have faced heavy pushback in court—even as they remain largely popular with the American public—and judges have now ruled at some point against all four orders.”

Whatever Forbes basis for that summation that the vaccines were “largely popular,” every mandate, from those imposed on businesses to those imposed in schools, has been challenged, and most have been blocked by the courts, rescinded by councils and boards once the locality “state of emergency” orders expired, or struck down by governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin, and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem. So, popular or not, the forced requirement in order to attain or continue employment privately or federally continues to be opposed.

The ruling maintains the status quo for federal employee vaccines. It upholds a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate issued by a federal judge in January 2022. At that point, the administration said nearly 98% of covered employees had been vaccinated.

And, Oldham noted, with the preliminary injunction arguments done, the case will return to that court for further arguments, when “both sides will have to grapple with the White House’s announcement that the COVID emergency will finally end on May 11, 2023.”

The two COVID cards still standing, the mandate for healthcare workers, which was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States, and Biden’s restriction on foreign travelers entering the United States continue to face strong criticism and calls for them to be rescinded. With that March 11 White House announcement, coupled with the increasing evidence that the COVID vaccines are not fully effective and may be causing more harm than good, there is no clear justification on why these, or any vaccine mandate related to COVID-19, should continue to stay in place.

At the end of the day, freedom always wins, as my colleague Sister Toldjah wrote back in February of 2022 when we were in the thick of chipping away at Biden’s draconian policies:

Now here we are, about to hit the two-year anniversary of the pandemic, and we’re seeing a full-blown backlash against some of the things we were told in the first and even well into the second year as it relates to issues like masking, social distancing, in-person learning, and the length of time mandates supposedly needed to be kept in place.

The interesting thing about that is that the backlash is not just coming from the Freedom Convoy truckers but also some elected Democrats including governors and members of the House and Senate, all of who appear to be reading the writing on the wall of what happened in Virginia in November 2021 and are responding accordingly by telling people that we now have to learn to live with threat of the virus because we can’t go on doing things the way we’ve been doing them.

This is a remarkable turn of events, brought on by a whole lot of persistence by some of the same conservatives who two years ago expressed doubt that a majority of people could be convinced that the federal government and blue state governors had stepped way out of bounds with their authoritarian approach to how to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

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