The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday revived President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for federal executive branch employees, lifting a district court’s January injunction that had halted the requirement and ordering the lower court to dismiss the case.
The majority on a three-member panel said that under the Civil Service Reform Act – which Congress passed in 1978 to streamline the process of settling workplace disputes brought by federal employees – the lower court did not have jurisdiction to issue the injunction on the mandate.
The opinion was written by Clinton-appointed Judge Carl Stewart, who was joined by Judge James Stewart, another Clinton appointee. Circuit Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale, an appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote a dissent disagreeing with the majority’s interpretation of the CSRA.
Lawyers for the mandate’s challengers did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment as to whether they planned to appeal the 5th Circuit’s decision. If they do, they could take the case directly to the Supreme Court or put it first in front of the full appellate court, which is dominated by conservative judges.
The requirement has been on hold since the nationwide injunction was issued in January by US District Judge Jeffrey Vincent Brown, a Trump appointee.
Brown’s order blocking the mandate came after several other federal judges across the country had rejected similar claims.
This story has been updated with additional details.