A court order preventing provisions of three workforce executive orders signed in May 2018 by President Donald Trump will remain in effect until additional court proceedings take place, a panel of judges ruled Aug. 14.
The three executive orders, which target collective bargaining and the ability to fire federal employees, were ruled an overstep in presidential power by a District Court judge in August 2018, establishing the initial injunction against significant parts of those orders.
But a July 2019 decision by a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals determined that the District Court didn’t have the authority to rule on the case in the first place and that the unions should have taken their case to the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
Though this ruling was ultimately a victory for the new Trump administration orders, agencies were not immediately able to act on the orders, as the injunction remained in effect until a petition for a rehearing on the case is filed and decided.
Administration lawyers filed for a premature lifting of the injunction, but the Aug. 14 decision denied that application, keeping the injunction in effect for at least as long as the additional court proceedings take.
“We are pleased that the federal court’s injunction of major provisions in the president’s executive orders trampling the rights of federal employees will remain in place under the U.S. Court of Appeals order issued today,” National Treasury Employee Union President Tony Reardon said in a statement.
“We opposed the administration’s effort to prematurely lift the injunction because the government offered no basis for the appellate court to deviate from its normal process.”
The unions involved in the case, NTEU and the American Federation of Government Employees, have 45 days from the date of the Court of Appeals’ initial decision to file a request for a rehearing on the case, giving them until Aug. 30 to file the application.
“Denying the government’s motion was the right call. The government provided no good reason for the court to dissolve the injunction prematurely and speed up the administration’s efforts to violate the law and send the federal workforce into disarray. This is a vitally important case that the court should rehear,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. in a statement.
Once the application for a rehearing is filed, it is in the court’s hands to determine how long their decision on such an application will take.
“NTEU looks forward to seeking rehearing of last month’s three-judge panel decision. The administration should not be allowed to ignore Congress and no president should be able to single-handedly flout federal civil service laws and weaken the collective bargaining rights of our nation’s civil servants,” said Reardon.
If the request for a rehearing is granted, the injunction remains in place for at least as long as the new court proceedings take, according to an NTEU spokesperson. If the request is denied, the injunction would be lifted one week later and the unions would have 90 days to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.