Republican attorneys general in 18 states are opposing the Biden administration’s coronavirus testing or vaccination mandate for companies with at least 100 employees, setting up the latest legal challenge between Republicans and the White House.
Two separate coalitions of Republican attorneys general filed petitions in federal appeals courts calling for the mandate to be blocked.
One, led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and ten others, filed a lawsuit in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the requirement is “unconstitutional, illegal and reckless.”
The lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration did not have the constitutional authority to implement the mandate that “unconstitutionally infringes the powers of the states.” It also claims that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which developed the rule, was not authorized to enforce such broad federal public health regulations.
“His illegal mandate will cause injury and hardship to working families, cause economic disruption and staff shortages in states and private employers, and place even greater strains on troubled labor markets and supply chains,” allege attorneys general in the demand, that requested that the court suspend the requirement pending review.
The other states that joined Missouri were Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, New Hampshire, and Wyoming.
A separate coalition of Republican attorneys general also filed a petition with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, also arguing that OSHA does not have the constitutional or statutory authority to implement the rule.
“OSHA’s vaccination mandate poses a real threat to individual liberty,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement Friday. “As we’ve seen across the country, it is also a public policy disaster that displaces vulnerable workers and exacerbates the shortage of frontline workers across the country, with dire consequences for all Americans.”
That coalition, which also includes the states of Kentucky, Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee, also requested a suspension of the mandate and that the court review the temporary emergency rule.
Both submissions were filed with the appellate courts, bypassing the trial court level because they sought reviews of the decision from a federal agency. The cases set up legal battles that will test the federal government’s ability to impose comprehensive public health measures and will likely reach the Supreme Court.
The wave of legal challenges comes just one day after the Biden administration released details about the mandate, which sets a January 4 deadline.
An OSHA spokesperson did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
White House officials, however, have previously argued that OSHA has broad authority to implement regulations such as vaccines.
“The new Temporary Emergency Standard is within OSHA’s authority under the law and is consistent with OSHA’s requirements to protect workers from health and safety hazards, including infectious diseases,” said a senior administration official during a background call with reporters this week. “There is a well-established legal precedent for OSHA’s authority to evaluate existing scientific evidence and apply data to develop safety and health standards.”
“OSHA has broad authority to issue and enforce health and safety standards to protect workers to stay safe and healthy on the job, such as precautions against blood-borne diseases, excessive noise, and falls from dangerous heights, and now, get vaccinated against a virus that has taken more American lives than World War I, World War II, Vietnam War, and 9/11 combined, ”the person added.
– Updated at 12:11 pm Harper Neidig contributed.