‘A bridge too far’: Federal judge blocks Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal workers

Calling it out as an “overbroad” policy, a federal judge in Texas on Friday temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors.

The ruling from Judge Jeffrey Vincent Brown of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas comes days after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for large businesses but allowed one for health care workers to stand, as Fox News reported.

Brown, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, made it clear that the Biden administration had overstepped the limits of its power in mandating that millions of federal workers and contractors get the jab.

“What is that limit? As the court has already noted, Congress appears … to have limited the President’s authority in this field to workplace conduct,” he wrote.

“For its part, this court will say only this: however extensive that power is, the federal-worker mandate exceeds it,” Brown added.

He even cited the recent Supreme Court ruling that blocked Biden’s vaccine mandate for large, private businesses.

“The President certainly possesses ‘broad statutory authority to regulate executive branch employment policies,'” he wrote. “But the Supreme Court has expressly held that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is not an employment regulation. And that means the President was without statutory authority to issue the federal worker mandate.”

And while Brown said vaccines are effective, he argued there are “less restrictive” ways to serve the “public interest.”

“While vaccines are undoubtedly the best way to avoid serious illness from COVID-19, there is no reason to believe that the public interest cannot be served via less restrictive measures than the mandate, such as masking, social distancing, or part- or full-time remote work,” Brown said. “Stopping the spread of COVID-19 will not be achieved by overbroad policies like the federal-worker mandate.”

Biden’s vaccine mandate is simply “a bridge too far,” he added.

“The court notes at the outset that this case is not about whether folks should get vaccinated against COVID-19 — the court believes they should,” Brown said.

“It is not even about the federal government’s power, exercised properly, to mandate vaccination of its employees,” he wrote. “It is instead about whether the President can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, 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.”

Brown’s decision is not a final ruling on the case, but it will stay in effect while litigation against the mandate is pending. However, the Biden administration quickly appealed the ruling to a federal appeals court, CNN reported.

“Obviously, we are confident in our legal authority here,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, according to The Washington Post.