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11 states file suit against Biden COVID vaccine rule for private businesses

White House issues vaccine mandate for companies
Biden administration issues COVID vaccine mandate for large companies 08:10

Attorneys general in 11 U.S. states filed suit Friday against President Joe Biden's administration, challenging a new vaccine requirement for workers at large companies.

The lawsuit, filed in the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, argues that the authority to compel vaccinations rests with the states, not the federal government.

"This mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful and unwise," said the court filing by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, one of several Republicans vying for the state's open U.S. Senate seat next year.

Under new regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, companies with more than 100 employees must require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus weekly and wear masks on the job. The requirement is to kick in January 4. Failure to comply could result in penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.

Schmitt said Missouri has 3,443 private employers, with a combined 1.3 million employees, who could be covered by the vaccine requirement. He said he sued "to protect personal freedoms, preserve Missouri businesses, and push back on bureaucratic tyrants who simply want power and control."

Workers fired over vaccine status likely ineligible for unemployment aid 04:35

The Biden administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations as the quickest way out of the pandemic. A White House spokeswoman said Thursday that the emergency standard was intended to halt the spread of a disease that has claimed more than 750,000 lives in the U.S.

Missouri was joined in the lawsuit by the Republican attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The office of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, also joined in the suit, along with several private, nonprofit and religious employers.

The Daily Wire, a conservative media company, filed a challenge in federal court on Thursday. So did companies in Michigan and Ohio represented by a conservative advocacy law firm, as well as two Wisconsin manufacturers represented by a conservative law firm.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Thursday also said that the new regulations are "unconstitutional" and that he plans to sue OSHA. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to fine local governments that mandate employee vaccinations 08:15

Florida has banned counties from enforcing their employees to be vaccinated. It has also banned school districts from universally enforcing mask mandates among students, and officials have voted to withhold funds from districts that do not adhere to these rules.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted on Thursday that he will announce his plans to sue "once this illegal, unconstitutional regulation hits the Federal Register." 

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