At least 19 states — all but one of which are led by a Republican governor — have filed suit against the Biden administration’s forthcoming enforcement of a vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The majority of the states brought suits on Friday.
There are now at least four pending lawsuits from states opposing the mandate. Texas and Florida have each sued the administration individually, while two groups of states teamed up to file two joint suits.
Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming attorneys general filed a suit in a Missouri federal district court Friday, calling the mandate “unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise.”
A separate group — Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia — also filed Friday in a federal district court in Georgia. In a filing, the states call the mandate “unprecedented and unconstitutional use of power by the federal government” and argue that it “forces contractors to make an impossible choice” — either fire all unvaccinated employees or risk losing billions in federal funding.
“The Biden Administration has repeatedly expressed its disdain for Americans who choose not to get a vaccine, and it has committed repeated and abusive federal overreach to force upon Americans something they do not want,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is a Republican, said in a statement. “The federal government does not have the ability to strip individuals of their choice to get a vaccine or not. If the President thinks his patience is wearing thin, he is clearly underestimating the lack of patience from Texans whose rights he is infringing.”
The suits argue that the administration violated federal procurement law and did not have the authority to put in place a mandate requiring all federal contractors be vaccinated for Covid-19 by Dec. 8. As the AP noted, out of the states suing the administration, all but two (New Hampshire and Florida) currently lag behind the national vaccination rate.
Also on Friday, the Supreme Court denied an emergency appeal by Maine health care workers to halt the state’s vaccine mandate that went into effect on Friday. Doctors, nurses and other health care providers working in nursing homes and hospitals sought an appeal because the state’s vaccine mandate does not allow them to obtain a religious exemption from vaccination, putting them at risk of losing their jobs. The court decided 6-3 not to intervene and allowed the mandate to stand.