Court backtracks on Biden’s vaccine mandate

Enforcement of the vaccine rule has been halted once again following months of wrangling in the courts

A US appeals court has agreed to delay the White House’s vaccine mandate for federal workers, putting the requirement on pause temporarily after a previous ruling said it could go ahead. 

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued an order on Monday to halt enforcement of the vaccine requirement, which has bounced from judge to judge in a lengthy legal battle. While a prior decision in April lifted a ban on the mandate, the latest ruling said it would remain on hold as the court hears out the case. 

In January, US District Judge Jeffrey Brown imposed an initial nationwide injunction on the rule, which requires most federal workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19, but a separate panel of judges later determined that Brown did not have proper jurisdiction, and that those challenging the mandate still had other remedies available to them.

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The same panel has now agreed to reconsider that ruling, however, saying it will allow the court’s 17 judges to review the issue before a final decision is made. The rule was set to come back into effect on May 31, though it’s unclear to what extent it was enforced in the time since.

President Joe Biden imposed the mandate for federal workers last September, prompting a flurry of litigation challenging the move before January’s injunction. A separate rule that would have forced American companies with 100 employees or more to require vaccinations was struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year, though the White House nonetheless urged firms to enforce the measure anyway.

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