- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2022

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question federal employees have not been allowed to ask themselves.

President Biden made that decision for them: All were to get COVID-19 vaccines, with a few exceptions. U.S. government employees managing to obtain an exemption on religious grounds are winding up blacklisted, or more specifically, “unvax”-listed. Now that a federal judge has blocked the president’s order, with it into the trash should go records of those seeking medical guidance from a higher power. Americans mustn’t be tracked for simply exercising their God-given rights.

The listing of federal employees with faith-based exemption from the Biden vaccine mandate, first reported by the Daily Signal, has occurred in at least 19 federal agencies. Among them: the Departments of Justice, Treasury, Interior and Transportation, which employ a sizable portion of the 4 million individuals.

Mr. Biden frequently expresses irritation with the minority of Americans who say refusal to take the shot is a First Amendment issue: “This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you, the people you work with,” Mr. Biden says, ignoring the explosion of breakthrough infections that undercut his mandate’s rationale. 

In halting the president’s executive order Friday, Judge Jeffrey Brown of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas did not take issue with Americans opting for the vaccine, writing, “the court believes they should.” Rather, the legal question involved “whether the President can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment.” His judgment: no.

Mr. Biden treats the religious exemption-seeker as a bad apple who needs to be tagged for special handling lest the entire employee barrel be spoiled. Only a successful court challenge mounted by Navy SEALs prevented the president from expelling thousands of U.S. military personnel for refusing the jab, even though it didn’t shield their boss, triple-vaccinated Lloyd Austin, from coming down with COVID-19.

Keeping tabs on an employee’s vaccination status could be mistaken for ordinary Washington paper-pushing. During the current era of hyper-politics, though, it is not unreasonable to question the wisdom of collecting sensitive personal information in government databases. The Trump era proved the modern ship of state leaks like a sieve, rendering giggle-worthy any assurance of vaccination-status privacy.

Americans have taken heart from the courts’ repeated rejection of vaccine mandates. Tens of thousands flocked to a “Defeat the Mandate” rally in Washington Sunday to endorse a common-sense message voiced by virologist and vaccine critic Dr. Robert Malone: “If there is risk, there must be choice.” 

Tagging employees who claim religious exemption from the jab serves no purpose other than to cancel those who resist federal overreach. The unconstitutionality of Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate means religious objectors should not be unvax-listed in “the land of the free.”

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