NEW ORLEANS (NEWSnet/AP) — President Joe Biden’s order that federal employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 has been blocked by a federal appeals court.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected arguments Thursday that Biden, as the nation’s chief executive, has the authority to require that federal employees be vaccinated.

The decision maintains the status quo for federal employee vaccines.

Biden had issued an executive order in September 2021 requiring vaccinations for all executive branch agency employees, with exceptions for medical and religious reasons. The administration said in January 2022 that nearly 98% of covered employees at that time were vaccinated.

Judge Andrew Oldham, who wrote the majority opinion for the latest ruling, said details of the case will continue to be argued in court and that “both sides will have to grapple with the White House’s announcement that the COVID emergency will finally end on May 11, 2023.”

Judge Stephen Higginson wrote the main dissenting opinion. "For the wrong reasons, our court correctly concludes that we do have jurisdiction," Higginson wrote. "But contrary to a dozen federal courts — and having left a government motion to stay the district court’s injunction pending for more than a year — our court still refuses to say why the President does not have the power to regulate workplace safety for his employees."

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