A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned a decision that had prevented the White House from requiring federal workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
In September, President Biden said the vast majority of federal workers needed to be vaccinated or face disciplinary action. But a preliminary injunction, instituted in January by a federal judge in Texas, prevented the Biden administration from enforcing that mandate.
About 95% of federal workers were already in compliance with the mandate when the injunction was issued, the White House said.
In a 2-to-1 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas Judge Jeffrey Brown lacked jurisdiction to block the warrant. Judge Brown had ruled that the president did not have the power to compel employees to “submit to a medical procedure as a condition of their employment”.
He had said less invasive measures could protect public health, such as masking, social distancing and remote working.
In 2019, President Donald J. Trump appointed Judge Brown to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
In its judgment on Thursday, the appeals court said the lawsuit challenging the warrant, which was brought by the group Feds for Medical Freedom, should be dismissed.
Mr. Biden’s mandate, which also applies to health care workers and some private sector employees, was partly driven by the Delta push.
As of Thursday, two-thirds of eligible Americans were fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database.
In January, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine or testing mandate for large employers. But the court allowed a more modest mandate requiring healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal funds to be vaccinated.
The administration’s third major vaccine requirement, which targeted employees of federal contractors, was blocked by a federal judge in December.