Nebraska, Iowa join lawsuit to fight COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors

(WOWT) – The Nebraska Attorney General is helping lead a multi-state fight against the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

AG Doug Peterson and Missouri AG Eric Schmitt lead a 10-state coalition – which also includes Iowa – that filed the lawsuit Friday in Missouri federal court to fight the requirement for federal contractors.

President Biden last month tasked OSHA with drafting a rule that would require all employers with 100 or more workers to implement a COVID-19 vaccination mandate with the option of mandatory weekly testing ensuring that they don’t have the virus instead of getting vaccinated.

Yet in a written statement Friday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called the demands “an unprecedented use by the government to force every employee of every federal contractor in America, including thousands of Iowans, to take a vaccine against their will “.

Top state attorneys argue that “the far-reaching order is unconstitutional because it is the states, not the federal government, that are responsible for dealing with this public health issue,” Peterson said in a press release announcing the deposit.

“During the first year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump and Biden administrations rightly recognized that the federal government did not have the power to widely impose vaccines on the American people. But that all changed on September 9, 2021, when the Biden administration turned around and announced it would impose a wide range 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 dealing with these public health issues. “

“The ramifications of the federal contractor’s vaccine mandate are significant,” said Attorney General Peterson. “This will impact countless employees, exacerbate existing labor shortages and create economic instability. More importantly, it puts individual employees who worked for federal contractors out of work if they simply make the personal choice not to get the shot. Hopefully the court will resolve this legal issue quickly and provide clarification to employees who are understandably concerned about their ability to support their families. “

Days after Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts asked the state for an injunction as soon as the requirements were unveiled, he issued an executive order on Friday barring state agencies from complying with the intended mandate.

Ricketts and Reynolds have repeatedly recommended getting vaccinated against COVID-19 – and are themselves vaccinated – but oppose any requirement to do so. Among people aged 12 and over, 68.5% of Nebraskans and 61.9% of Iowans are considered fully vaccinated.

“I think the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but no one should be forced to choose between making a living or standing up for their personal beliefs,” Reynolds said in his office press release. “As long as I am governor, the State of Iowa will always be on the side of the Iowans and in making sure their freedoms are protected.”

Ricketts has repeatedly criticized the administration for pushing the demands.

“President Biden’s mandate on the coronavirus vaccine is a blatant violation of personal freedom and an abuse of power by the federal government,” he said at a press conference Wednesday.

The lawsuit also includes attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Read the injunction

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Joseph D. Whitman

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