More than half of US states files lawsuits opposing President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate
Twenty-six states cosigned four petitions, amounting to perhaps the most sweeping legal challenge to pandemic-era safety requirements since Biden took office. Three Democrat-led states are among the 26.
The lawsuits, filed in four federal appeals courts, take aim at Biden’s requirement that all companies with more than 100 employees mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their staff, or implement weekly testing.
“This mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise,” said a lawsuit filed by Missouri and 10 other states in the US Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit.
The states said in the filing that Biden’s mandate “will cause injuries and hardship to working families, inflict economic disruption and staffing shortages on the states and private employers, and impose even greater strains on struggling labor markets and supply chains.”
Biden’s mandate, which would affect about two of every three private-sector workers, was officially rolled out on Thursday. It is set to take effect January 4.
The lawsuits argue that the federal government doesn’t have the constitutional authority to put a vaccine mandate in place. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also lacks the statutory authority to enforce it, they said. The issue should be left to states to decide, they argue.
“States have been leading the fight against COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic,” said Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, one of several Democratic leaders to join the suits. “It is too late to impose a federal standard now that we have already developed systems and strategies that are tailored for our specific needs.”
At least one lawsuit argues that Biden’s requirements have been “shoe-horned” into workplace safety statutes.
The White House on Friday pushed back against that characterization, saying it wanted to be “crystal clear” that the requirement was a workplace-safety measure, not a vaccine mandate.
“That would be, on its face, incorrect,” Karine Jean-Pierre, principal deputy press secretary, told reporters in a briefing. “As has been explicit for months, it is a standard for a safe workplace to either comply with weekly testing or to be vaccinated.”
Missouri was joined in its Eighth Circuit petition by Arizona, Nebraska, Montana, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, New Hampshire, and Wyoming.
Kentucky filed in the Sixth Circuit with Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Texas filed a petition in the Fifth Circuit, joined by Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, and Mississippi.
Georgia filed in the Eleventh Circuit with Florida and Alabama.
At least two other lawsuits were filed last week against the Biden administration’s vaccine requirements. Mississippi on Thursday joined a separate lawsuit with Louisiana and Indiana. And Florida, which had announced plans to sue in October, filed a solo complaint in US District Court in Tampa.
“We started with fifteen days to slow the spread and now it’s, ‘Get jabbed or lose your job,'” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a press conference, adding that the OSHA requirement was “500 pages” of government bureaucracy.