(The American Tribune) President Joe Biden just suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Fifth Circuit, which ruled that his administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate is illegal under federal law.
That vaccine mandate was effected in September of 2021 when Biden issued Executive Order 14043. That order required all 4.2 million federal employees to get a Covid vaccine. Biden, in the order, claimed he had the power to require the jab under the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA). Specifically, he claimed that the jab mandate was simply determining “workplace conditions” for employees. Further, he argued that his inherent power under Article II of the Constitution enabled the mandate.
Bringing challenge to the policy in a lawsuit, Feds for Medical Freedom said, “The department has burdened the exercise of religion by forcing religious believers to accept invasive and painful testing, stigmatizing masking, loss of professional opportunities, unequal accommodation procedures, and a culture of harassment and ridicule because of their disfavored religious beliefs.”
Continuing, they alleged that the Department of State has taken “an uneven, lackadaisical approach to issuing religious accommodations, while at the same time ratcheting up pressure on those who have expressed religious belief to vaccinate, despite their convictions.”
The Fifth Circuit noted that it largely agreed with the district court, which had ruled that, contrary to what Biden claimed, CSRA “authorizes the President to regulate the workplace conduct of executive-branch employees, but not their conduct in general.”
Judge Andrew Oldham, writing the majority opinion, ruled that the federal employees suing Biden could take their case to court because they were challenging his authority on constitutional grounds and upheld the preliminary injunction of the lower court, saying “We hasten to emphasize that this case only involves a preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction’s purpose is to maintain the status quo until the parties have the chance to adjudicate the merits.”
In a concurring opinion, Judge James Ho noted that it is incredibly difficult to fire a federal employee, saying:
What’s more, federal employees know it—and they take full-throated advantage of it. As anyone who has ever held a senior position in the Executive Branch can attest, federal employees often regard themselves, not as subordinates duty-bound to carry out the President’s vision whether they personally agree with it or not, but as a free-standing interest group entitled to make demands on their superiors. As a result, Presidents can have a hard time implementing their agenda if civil servants collectively drag their feet or lack the competence to carry out the President’s orders.
Indeed, one scholar has pointedly noted that the single biggest obstacle for any President is not the separation of powers designed by our Founders, but the millions of federal employees who are supposed to work for him. These employees can drag their feet, leak to the press, threaten to resign and employ other tactics to undermine [a President’s] initiatives if they object to them. They’re also hard to fire, thanks to Civil Service protections.
The case will now go back to the courtroom for additional proceedings. Namely, the court will have to determine whether the injunction will block the mandate nationwide, or will just be limited to the 6,000 members represented in the case.
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