Authors: DAVID A.LIEB, GEOFF Mulvihill and ANDREW DEMILLO
Jefferson City, Missouri (Associated Press)-On Friday, more than 20 Republican-led states filed lawsuits to challenge President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirements for private companies and set up a high-risk legal showdown. The federal powers are competing with those of the states.
Companies with over 100 employees must comply with the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Thursday requirements. All workers must be tested for COVID-19 by January 4th, or before the mask becomes mandatory. These lawsuits require the court to decide whether the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic represent the seizure of federal power and usurp the state’s power to formulate health policies.
26 states have sued to contest the rule.
Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmidt said in a court document filed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis on behalf of 11 states: “This authorization is unconstitutional, illegal and unwise.”
The Biden administration has long advocated widespread vaccination as the best way to escape the pandemic. The White House spokesperson stated Thursday that the authorization was intended to stop the spread a disease that has claimed the lives of more than 750,000 Americans.
The government stated it believed its requirements, which included a fine of almost $14,000 per violation, would withstand legal challenges in part due to its safety rules taking precedence over state laws.
“The government clearly has the right to protect workers, and the actions announced by the president are designed to save lives and stop the spread of COVID,” White House spokesperson Karin Jean-Pierre said at a briefing on Thursday.
Lawrence Gostin is a Georgetown University professor and the director of the World Health Organization’s Health Law Center. He stated that the half-century old law that established the Occupational Safety and Health Agency gave it power to set minimum workplace safety standards.
He stated, “I believe Biden has a solid legal foundation.”
Critics targeted certain aspects of the requirement, including that it was passed as an emergency measure rather than after the agency’s regular rulemaking process.
Godin said that this was a true emergency and spoke with the Biden administration. “In fact, it is a national crises. There will be thousands of deaths if we delay.
The Missouri lawsuit was also joined by the Republican attorneys general from Arizona, Arizona, Arkansas and Montana. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller was also a participant in the lawsuit. This was the only Democratic lawyer general to challenge the mission.