The state of Florida is suing the Biden administration over a vaccine mandate for federal contractors, just the latest in the Republican governor’s ongoing war with the White House over Covid-19 precautions.
Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been threatening to take Biden to court over the mandate for weeks, and state Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the suit in a Thursday press conference. The suit seeks a preliminary injunction to stop the mandate from going into effect on Dec. 8 as scheduled.
“It’s important for us to take a stand,” DeSantis said. “Tossing people aside is just not something we can tolerate here in the state of Florida so we are going to do everything we can.”
It’s an especially ironic position for DeSantis to take considering he signed a bill in 2019 that mandated doctors and nurses log all children’s vaccinations in a state-run database, Huff Post pointed out on Thursday. Florida additionally mandates a number of routine immunizations for all children entering daycare, pre-school or K-12.
But since the pandemic, DeSantis has tried to build his national reputation on his opposition to commonsense public health measures that would help reduce the transmission of Covid-19. He signed an executive order banning mask requirements in schools in July and even withheld pay from school board members who voted to implement mask mandates anyway. In 2020, he sued the Biden administration’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention for its guidelines on cruise ships that require masks while onboard, as well as testing and vaccination for passengers and crew members.
Florida’s complaint filed in federal court Thursday calls the vaccine mandate for contractors a “radical intrusion on the personal autonomy of American workers” and argues that the president lacks the necessary authority to require vaccinations for those workers. Mandated vaccines, the state claimed, “would threaten Florida with economic harm and the loss of federal contracts.”
“It’s, like, sometimes you’ve got to just, in the moment, look back and think, ‘OK, we’ve gone from 15 days to slow the spread to three jabs to keep your job somehow.’ Are you kidding me?” DeSantis said at the press conference.
Responding to the suit, a White House official told Politico, “The President has authority to protect the federal workforce and promote efficiency in federal contracting in this way. The Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have already determined that Covid vaccines can be required by employers.”