A federal district court judge in Texas on Friday decided to reject the White House’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement for federal employees and block it from imposing disciplinary action on personnel that failed to comply, Reuters reported.
The vaccine mandate would have applied to approximately 3.5 million government employees.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown said the question was whether the president could “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,” added Brown.
The Department of Justice said it would appeal the judge’s ruling.
“We are confident in our legal authority,” Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the White House, said in response to the court’s decision.
On Jan. 13, the Supreme Court blocked the U.S. government’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirement for large private businesses but allowed the administration to implement a vaccine mandate for over 10 million health care workers whose facilities take part in Medicare and Medicaid programs.
In early January, the White House released new guidance directing federal agencies to establish testing programs by Feb. 15, to facilitate COVID-19 screening of certain unvaccinated federal personnel and onsite contractor employees.