BY JOE MUELLER
THE CENTER SQUARE REPORTER
(The Center Square) — Republican attorneys general Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Doug Peterson of Nebraska are leading eight additional states in a lawsuit against President Joe Biden and his administration for its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors and federally contracted employees.
The lawsuit came Saturday, one day after Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson issued an executive order stating the executive branch will not compel or penalize anyone to comply with any federal mandates for the vaccination if individuals have a religious objection or medical restriction.
The 44-page complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in Eastern Missouri. It states the administration used federal procurement statutes to “create sweeping new power to issue decrees over large swaths of the U.S. economy and take over areas of traditional state power.”
The complaint states President Biden’s executive order gave the executive branch “unilateral power to mandate that all employees of federal contractors be vaccinated. This power grab is sweeping in its scope. Employees of federal contractors constitute one-fifth of the total U.S. workforce. And the mandate goes so far as to demand vaccination even from employees who work entirely within their own home. That is unconstitutional, unlawful and unwise.”
Joining Missouri and Nebraska are Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
“If the federal government attempts to unconstitutionally exert its will and force federal contractors to mandate vaccinations, the workforce and businesses could be decimated, further exacerbating the supply chain and workforce crises,” Mr. Schmitt, a candidate for the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The federal government should not be mandating vaccinations, and that’s why we filed suit today — to halt this illegal, unconstitutional action.”
The lawsuit states the vaccine mandate exercises “power far beyond what was delegated to the federal government by constitutional mandate or congressional action.” The complaint also states the “power to impose vaccine mandates, to the extent that any such power exists, is a power reserved to the States” and violates the 10th Amendment.
“For the first year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, both the Trump and Biden administrations rightly acknowledged that the federal government lacks the authority to broadly mandate vaccines on the American people,” Mr. Peterson said in a statement. “But all that changed on Sept. 9, 2021, when the Biden administration did an about-face and announced that it would impose a wide-ranging set of vaccine mandates, including one for employees of federal contractors. This far-reaching order is unconstitutional because it is the states, not the federal government, that are responsible for addressing such matters of public health.”
In addition to President Biden, Robin Carnahan, an administrator for the General Services Administration and co-chair of the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, was named as one of eight additional defendants. Ms. Carnahan, a Democrat, served as Missouri’s secretary of state from 2005 to 2013 and lost to Mr. Blunt in the race for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Kit Bond in 2010. She is the daughter of Mel Carnahan, who served as governor of Missouri and was the Democratic nominee elected to the U.S. Senate after he died in a plane crash in October 2000.
Joe Mueller covers Missouri for The Center Square.