Nearly two dozen states announced the filing of lawsuits Friday against President Biden’s decision requiring large private businesses to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for their employees or pay for regular testing.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, along with 10 other states, argue in court papers the requirement runs afoul of states’ rights, which should have authority over police powers to patrol citizens’ safety.
“For over a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that policies on compulsory vaccination lie within the police powers of the States, and that ‘[t]hey are matters that do not ordinarily concern the national government,’ ” the complaint read.
The focus of the argument is that the requirement from the feds runs afoul of the Constitution and the 10th Amendment. The states are asking the court to block the enforcement of the mandate and rule it unlawful.
“This mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise. The federal government lacks constitutional authority under its enumerated powers to issue this mandate,” the lawsuit reads.
The states filed their petition with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Joining Missouri are: Arizona, Nebraska, Montana, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, New Hampshire and Wyoming.
The Justice Department declined to comment about the states’ filing.
Other states are also grouping together to launch challenges.
Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah also filed a separate lawsuit in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, while Oklahoma, Kentucky, Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia launched their lawsuit in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mr. Biden proposed the mandate in a September speech, but it was on Thursday that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which applies to 84 million workers, published the rule.
It directs large companies to require employees to get vaccinated by Jan. 4, or else pay for them to get tested weekly.
Employees who are not vaccinated will also have to wear a face mask.
Under the rule, employers must also give employees paid leave for them to get the vaccines and recover from any side effects.
Employers are subject to a $14,000 fine per violation under the new federal rule.
“The federal government should not be forcing private employers to require their employees to get vaccinated or foot the cost to test those employees weekly,” said Mr. Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate. “Local business owners have told me that the vaccine mandate would decimate their businesses, including some that have been around for decades, and they’re certainly not alone – there are thousands of businesses in Missouri alone that could be negatively affected by this mandate.”
Mr. Schmitt said the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations estimates there are more than 3,400 private employers who would be subject to the rule, which would impact about 1,289,588 employees in the state.
• Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this story.