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Amid Multiple Legal Challenges, Vax Mandates Likely Headed to SCOTUS

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(Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the Biden administration over three different vaccine mandates targeting private employees, federal employees and healthcare workers serving Medicare and Medicaid patients.

But lawsuits filed by 27 states over the private sector mandate is setting the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in because they were filed directly in five federal courts of appeals.

Eighteen states sued the Biden administration and other agencies in lower district courts over a mandate affecting federal employees and contractors. Ten states sued in district courts over a health care worker mandate.

Florida and Indiana filed individual lawsuits, one in district court, one in circuit court, respectively.

27 states sued in five circuit courts over private sector mandate

Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Utah and private employers sued the Biden administration in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, arguing the mandate is an “illegal and unconstitutional vaccine mandate imposed on private businesses.”

The Fifth Circuit, citing “grave” constitutional issues, quickly granted their request to temporarily blocked the mandate.

Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia sued the administration over the private sector mandate in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals; Indiana sued in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Eleven states sued in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals over the same mandate: led by Missouri and Nebraska, with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming joining.

Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and private employers sued over the same mandate in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The plaintiffs argue the private sector mandate violates the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and unconstitutionally uses federal spending to coerce states to comply, among other violations.

“The Biden Administration has repeatedly expressed its disdain for Americans who choose not to get a vaccine, and it has committed repeated and abusive federal overreach to force upon Americans something they do not want,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said.

“The federal government does not have the ability to strip individuals of their choice to get a vaccine or not. If the President thinks his patience is wearing thin, he is clearly underestimating the lack of patience from Texans whose rights he is infringing.”

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said the mandates are unconstitutional and will exacerbate the worker shortage facing the country.

“If the federal government attempts to unconstitutionally exert its will and force on federal contractors to mandate vaccinations, the workforce and businesses could be decimated, further exacerbating the supply chain and workforce crises,” Schmitt said. “The federal government should not be mandating vaccinations, and that’s why we filed suit today – to halt this illegal, unconstitutional action.”

The private sector mandate, which would be implemented through the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requires private businesses with 100 or more workers to make sure those workers are vaccinated by Jan. 4 or comply with testing and mask requirements, or the employers would be fined up to $14,000 per violation.

18 states sued in district courts over federal employee mandate

Seventeen states sued in two groups in two district courts over the federal employee mandate. Florida filed on its own.

Seven states, led by Georgia, sued over the mandate imposed on federal contractors, subcontractors and employees in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia Augusta Division. Joining Georgia are Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia.

Missouri and Nebraska led a 10-state coalition suing the administration on behalf of federal employees.

Florida sued the administration, NASA’s administrator and six other officials and five agencies over the federal employee mandate in the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida Tampa Division.

“We’ve gone from 15 days to slow the spread, to three jabs to keep your job. Are you kidding me?” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said when he announced the lawsuit.

Seven hundred workers from five unions protested outside of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the same day DeSantis announced Florida’s lawsuit. If they don’t comply with the mandate, they will be denied access to work Dec. 1.

“We’ve been clear in the state of Florida that we want people to be able to work and provide for their families,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, you have an opportunity to earn a living, and it should not depend on these shots.”

10 states sued over health care worker mandate

Missouri and Nebraska also led a 10-state coalition suing the administration over the vaccine mandate imposed on health care workers serving Medicare and Medicaid patients. Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota and New Hampshire joined the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The mandate, which impacts more than 17 million nurses and other health care workers and contractors, would be implemented through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“The police power over compulsory vaccination has always been the province of – and still properly belongs to – the States,” the 58-page complaint states.

“Vaccination requirements are matters that depend on local factors and conditions,” it said. “Whatever might make sense in New York City, St. Louis, or Omaha could be decidedly counterproductive and harmful in rural communities like Memphis, Missouri or McCook, Nebraska.

“Federalism allows States to tailor such matters in the best interests of their communities. The heavy hand of CMS’s nationwide mandate does not. This Court should thus set aside that rule as unlawful agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

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