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5th US Circuit Court of Appeals Strikes Down Injunction that Blocked COVID Vaccine Mandate

The injunction was voted down 2-1 on Thursday, April 7 in the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals when two Clinton appointed Democratic Judges ruled the original ruling lacked jurisdiction and was to be dismissed. Judge Stewart made the opinion and Judge Dennis agreed with him while Senior Judge Barksdale voted against it and wrote the dissenting opinion. Judge Carl E. Stewart was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994. Judge James L. Dennis was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1995. Judge Rhesa H. Barksdale was appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1989.

The two liberal Judges claimed that the plaintiffs should have followed established procedure and worked under the Civil Service Reform Act, first. They ruled that federal employees must be fined, demoted, fired, or whatever other punishment they receive for refusing the mandate and then after the adverse employment action is taken they could appeal by seeking relief with the Merit Systems Protection Board. They said only if they suffer punishment, then their appeal before the board fails, do the plaintiffs have just cause to appeal to the Federal Court.

In January, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown made the initial ruling that issued a nationwide injunction against the Federal employee vaccination mandate. Brown was appointed by President Trump to the District Court for the Southern District of Texas. His reasoning for the injunction was that this mandate meant the Executive Branch "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." He also argued "That, under the current state of the law as just recently expressed by the Supreme Court, [it] is a bridge too far."

At the time, the Biden administration had argued that the Constitution gives the President the same authority as the CEO of a private corporation because he is the "head of the federal workforce." The plaintiff's legal team pointed to the Supreme Court ruling which said the government can't force private employers to require employee vaccinations.

However, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court vacated the injunction issued by Judge Jeffrey Brown and ordered dismissal of the case in what was a rare win for the administration at the 5th Circuit. It is expected that the plaintiffs in this case will seek an en banc hearing which would be a hearing in front of all the 5th Circuit's judges. If they get this there is a good chance the injunction could be reinstated. While this ruling had two democrat Judges, the 5th Circuit as a whole has many more conservative Judges. In fact, 12 of the 17 active judges were appointed by "republicans'', if you count the four appointed by George W Bush and two by Reagan. Six of the 17 were appointed by President Trump. As for Senior Judges, 7 of the 9 were appointed by Reagan or George H.W. Bush while one was appointed by Carter and one by Clinton.

This ruling could also be taken directly to the Supreme Court in which there are also more conservative appointed judges and based on their previous rulings one would think the plaintiffs would have a good chance.

At the end of the day this shouldn't even be an issue. There should be no vaccination mandates for any class of people whether in the private or government sector. The science has shown that people who are fully vaccinated and boosted are just as likely or even more likely to get and spread covid then the unvaccinated. Furthermore, there is clear evidence that hundreds of thousands of people have had adverse reactions to the vaccines. This is not about science or safety. It is about the same thing it has always been, control. This is something to definitely keep your eye on as it works its way through the legal system.

Written by Chris Turner Online Content Chair


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