A federal judge on Friday issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the enforcement of U.S. President Joe Biden’s requirement that federal workers be vaccinated.
Biden announced the mandate, which required 3.5 million federal workers to be vaccinated or ask for a medical or religious exemption, in September. There was no option to be regularly tested instead.
When the mandate went into effect in November, the White House said 95% of federal workers had either been vaccinated or applied for medical or religious exemptions.
Those not conforming to the mandate could lose their jobs.
Judge Jeffrey Brown of Texas, writing in the injunction, questioned if a 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.”
He called the mandate a “bridge too far,” citing a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down a mandate on private employers.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden vaccine mandate requiring companies with more than 100 workers to be fully vaccinated. The court allowed a mandate requiring certain healthcare workers to be vaccinated.
Brown said public health could be adequately protected using masks and social distancing.
The plaintiff in the suit is a group called Feds for Medical Freedom.
The U.S. Department of Justice said it will appeal the injunction.
COVID-19 has killed more than 861,000 Americans.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.