Judge blocks powers of federal employees

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at Eisenhower’s executive office building in Washington, D.C., USA, Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

US judge in Texas on Friday blocked Biden administration from enforcement executive order requirement to vaccinate federal employees against Covid-19.

The decision marks the latest setback for President Joe Biden, whose efforts to boost U.S. vaccination rates through sweeping workplace safety rules have been repeatedly blocked by the courts.

Judge Jeffrey Brown, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote in a 20-page order that Biden’s order “is tantamount to a presidential mandate that all federal employees agree to COVID-19 vaccinations or lose their jobs.”

“Because the president’s powers are not as broad, the court will enforce the second order,” Brown’s ruling in the U.S. District Court in Galveston, Texas, said.

The judge cited a Supreme Court decision last week blocking a federal rule that would have required workers at large companies to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly for Covid. At the same time, the Supreme Court voted to provide a separate vaccination mandate for healthcare facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments.

Brown’s ruling said it was “too far” to allow the president “with a stroke of the pen and without the involvement of Congress to require millions of federal employees to undergo medical procedures as a condition of their employment.”

Asked about Brown’s ruling later Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that a “remarkable” 98% of federal employees have already been vaccinated.

“We are confident in our legal authority here,” Psaki added.

This is the latest news. Please stay tuned for updates.

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