2021: President Biden announces a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The mandate includes vaccines for all federal workers, healthcare workers, and workers at companies with more than 100 employees. It could apply to more than 100 million Americans. In a speech announcing this sweeping initiative, President Joe Biden said vaccinated Americans are losing patience with those who refuse to get immunized, stating, “Your refusal has cost all of us.”

[Pictured: President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus Oct. 14, 2021 in Washington D.C. Biden spoke about the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged states and businesses to support vaccine mandates to avoid a surge in cases of COVID-19.]

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Groups oppose vaccine mandate

The Mississippi Justice Institute and the state have filed suit to challenge the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers.

The mandate, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, requires private companies with more than 100 employees to ensure that all of their workers are either fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or be subject to weekly testing and mask-wearing. “Fully vaccinated” means that the employee has received two doses of Moderna or Pfizer's vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to OSHA’s definition. The companies are subject to fines well over $13,000 per day for each employee who does not comply.

The lawsuit seeks to declare the contractor vaccine mandate unlawful and prevent its enforcement. The Governor’s Office is working closely with the Attorney General’s Office to file a second lawsuit shortly, challenging the OSHA vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more workers.

“The Biden administration has time and time again shown a total disregard for Americans’ individual liberties,” Gov. Tate Reeves said. “Their previous lie about not forcing vaccine mandates on the American people was just another example of their lengthy track record of not telling the truth. 

“With this lawsuit, Mississippi is stepping up to defend its people against the Biden administration’s relentless attacks on freedom and personal choice. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to stop President Biden’s flagrant abuse of power.”

The “Biden Regime” is using World War II Era procurement laws to impose a vaccine mandate on one-fifth of all Americans, Reeves said. 

“The unprecedented and clearly unconstitutional contractor vaccine mandate is the desperate act of a fading tyrant frustrated by Americans exercising their fundamental rights of freedom and self-determination,” he said.

Key arguments in the lawsuit include:

• President Biden has exceeded his authority by mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees of federal contractors and subcontractors;

• Federal agencies failed to follow the required procedures to adopt a federal contractor vaccine mandate, and their actions were unlawful, arbitrary and capricious;

• The contractor vaccine mandate is an exercise of nonexistent federal police powers over matters of public health and violates the 10th Amendment.

The Mississippi Justice Institute  – a non-profit Constitutional litigation center and the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy –  represents Gulf Coast Restaurant Group, a corporate family of restaurants including Half Shell Oyster House and the Rackhouse. Attorney General Lynn Fitch represents the State of Mississippi in the suit. 

The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of states, including Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and Utah, as well as private employers in several of those states.

“The Mississippi Justice Institute is proud to represent Gulf Coast Restaurant Group, and to partner with Attorney General Lynn Fitch to challenge this extraordinary federal overreach,” said MJI Director Aaron Rice. “While we and our client are grateful for the development of the COVID vaccines, we cannot stand by while the federal government brazenly exceeds its constitutional authority and infringes on the individual liberties of Mississippi businesses and workers.”

Kevin Fish, who is vice president of the restaurant group, said, “While I am personally pro-vaccination, I completely disagree with this policy. It is completely arbitrary. This policy will place an unfair and unreasonable burden upon my staff simply because of the number of employees I have."

In addition to turning employers into “federal vaccine enforcers,” the regulation will also result in many leaving the workforce entirely. This would accelerate a trend that has devastated the nation’s economic growth in the wake of pandemic, opponents of the mandate said.

“The federal government has no business forcing Mississippi workers to get vaccinated or forcing Mississippi businesses to fire their employees,” Rice said. “This is still a free country. In America, we have presidents, not kings."

The lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. A lawsuit represents only one side of a legal argument.

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