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11 States Challenge Biden’s Vaccine Mandate in Court

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: November 8, 2021
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOV. 03: People gather to protest vaccine mandates for city workers at City Hall Park on November 03, 2021 in New York City. 11 U.S. states have filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. (Image: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Attorneys general from 11 U.S. states have filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s mandate that requires companies with more than 100 employees to institute vaccination requirements for workers. The lawsuit insists that only states have the right to impose such mandates. The case has been filed in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Missouri.

On Nov. 4, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published guidelines on how companies are expected to implement Biden’s vaccine mandate. Workers either have to be inoculated or be subjected to weekly testing. 

Moreover, unvaccinated employees will also have to wear face masks. Companies that do not impose these requirements can face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. The mandate is scheduled to come into effect on Jan. 4.

Biden’s mandate will affect around 100 million workers, which is roughly two-thirds of all the workforce in America. The president has insisted that vaccine mandates have ‘broad public support” 

“Vaccination requirements are good for the economy. They not only increase vaccination rates but they help send people back to work – as many as 5 million American workers. They make our economy more resilient in the face of COVID and keep our businesses open,” Biden said in a statement on Nov. 4.

On Nov. 5, the 11 attorneys general, led by Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt, filed the lawsuit against the vaccine mandate, calling it “unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise.” Schmitt points out that more than a century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court had already affirmed that decisions regarding compulsory vaccination of citizens are only to be taken by the states, with the federal government having no role in it.

The state of Missouri has 3,443 private employers who together employ around 1.3 million people. According to Schmitt, local firms have complained to him that the vaccine mandate would “decimate” their businesses, including those who have been in operation for several decades. 

The attorney general vowed to “preserve” the state’s businesses, “protect personal freedoms,” and fight back against the “bureaucratic tyrants who simply want power and control.”

The 10 states that are backing Missouri’s lawsuit include Arizona, Montana, Alaska, North Dakota, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. Nine of these states have Republican attorney generals while Iowa has a Democrat. In addition, several other nonprofit, religious, and private employers have also joined the suit.

“The federal government lacks constitutional authority under its enumerated powers to issue this mandate, and its attempt to do so unconstitutionally infringes on the States’ powers expressly reserved by the Tenth Amendment. OSHA also lacks statutory authority to issue the ETS, which it shoe-horned into statutes that govern workplace safety, and which were never intended to federalize public-health policy,” the lawsuit states.

Several other groups have also approached courts concerning Biden’s vaccine mandate. Companies in states like Michigan and Ohio have filed such lawsuits. The Daily Wire, a company owned by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, filed a case in federal court.

The federal vaccine mandate also hit a snag on Nov. 6 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court issued a temporary stay on Biden’s order while considering a permanent injunction. The stay was sought by South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi, and Utah. “Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby stayed pending further action by this court,” the judges wrote. They also ordered lawyers representing the states and Washington to submit further briefing by this week.