DC vaccine mandate unlawful: Judge
( Post Millennial )
A DC Superior Judge Maurice Ross ruled Thursday that Mayor Muriel Bowser's COVID-19 vaccine mandate which applies to all DC employees is unlawful.
The judge’s order obtained by The Washington Post reads "It is undisputed that the Mayor has a strong interest in combating the spread of Covid-19, however, our system does not permit the Mayor to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends."
The ruling came after the DC Police Union filed a lawsuit against the vaccine mandate.
In August 2021, Bowser issued the order requiring that all District employees provide proof of vaccination by September 19, 2021. The order allowed for exemptions based on religious and medical grounds if the employee agreed to be tested weekly for COVID.
However, according to court documents, in Dec. 2021, Bowser issued another order directing city administrators to create a plan to phase out the test-out option.
At the beginning of 2022, Bowser asked the DC City Council to extend the emergency legislation requiring the vaccine mandate but the body did not extend the order and failed to pass any legislation extending the code that the mandate was in.
In January, the city’s Department of Human Resources ordered that all employees would be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID, including any booster shots by February 15, 2022 and that employees who did not comply could be subject to disciplinary actions.
Judge Ross ordered that all disciplinary actions started, proposed, or taken due to the vaccine mandate "shall immediately cease and be dismissed with full reimbursement to be provided to all FOP members for any loss of benefits, pay, or rights and all related disciplinary proceedings to be expunged from their records."
Ross added that Bowser lacked authority to impose the vaccine mandate through emergency executive orders. "A vaccine mandate is not an everyday exercise of power. It is instead a significant encroachment into the life—and health—of an employee."
The judge’s ruling also stated that Bowser is "permanently enjoined from implementing, imposing and/or enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate … against the plaintiffs."
DC Police Union Chairman Gregg Pemberton said in response to the ruling, "Had the Mayor just engaged the Union in good faith bargaining, we could have reached a reasonable compromise that protected everyone’s interests."
"Nonetheless, we are pleased that Judge Ross agreed with our arguments and issued this ruling. Now, all of our members can go back to doing the necessary work of trying to protect our communities from crime and violence without unlawful threats of discipline and termination."
Bowser made headlines during the pandemic for repeatedly and openly violating her own mask mandates.