A federal judge has denied a request to overturn the Biden administration’s mandate for federal personnel, including military service members, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The request to that effect was denied by federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who has handled other proceedings related to the matter. Just last month, Law & Crime explains how the judge “issued a minute order that appeared to preclude any form of punishment for the plaintiffs who are seeking religious exemptions to the two vaccine mandates in question” — and thus, the request to suspend the mandates entirely doesn’t seem to connect to any actual, real-world threats of harm on the plaintiffs’ parts.
Kollar-Kotelly wrote as follows in her new conclusions regarding the issue:
‘Plaintiffs’ “extraordinary” request for immediate injunctive relief is not merited. At this early stage of the proceedings, the record reflects that each Plaintiff has requested an exemption to the very COVID-19 vaccine mandates they challenge. These exemption requests all remain pending, and during their pendency, no Plaintiff faces disciplinary action for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. Plaintiffs, therefore, come before this Court complaining of a compulsory inoculation they may never need to take, and of adverse employment actions they may never experience.’
The judge also noted how the plaintiffs “broadly argue that forcing an individual to choose between complying with their faith or maintaining their federal employment violates constitutional and statutory rights. But because the Federal Employee Plaintiffs have pending requests for religious exemptions from the vaccine mandate, it remains uncertain whether they will ever face this supposed ‘ultimatum.’” Thus, the mandate for service members and other federal government personnel is remaining in place, for now. The mandate isn’t alone among similar vaccine policies from the Biden administration, which has also imposed a requirement for government contractors to have employees vaccinated against COVID-19.
This week, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman upheld the ability of United Airlines to mandate its employees to be vaccinated. Airlines have instituted such mandates tied to the requirement for government contractors to have their employees vaccinated against the pandemic-causing pathogen. For instance, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines — both of which are based in Texas, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order seeking to block all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the state — put vaccine requirements in place in defiance of the governor, connecting their decisions to the federal policy for firms contracting with the government.
Although Pittman initially issued a temporary restraining order blocking United from denying religious or medical exemptions from the vaccine and from placing employees who received such exemptions on unpaid leave, the judge concluded more recently that “[ultimately,] however, it is not for the Court to decide if United’s vaccine mandate is bad policy.” The judge added that “it is the Court’s role to determine if Plaintiffs carried their burden to obtain a preliminary injunction.”