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Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee sue Biden over COVID vaccine mandate

Attorney generals in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee sued the Biden Administration Thursday over...
Attorney generals in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee sued the Biden Administration Thursday over the vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors.(WITN News)
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 12:01 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 12:06 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS (WXIX/AP) - Attorneys general in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee sued the Biden Administration Thursday over the vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, asserts the Biden administration’s mandatory vaccination requirement is unlawful and unconstitutional.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced the lawsuit shortly after the Biden administration said Thursday morning that its vaccine rules applying to private businesses with 100 or more employees, certain health care workers and federal contractors will take effect Jan. 4.

“The Constitution lays out critical rules by which the executive branch must operate. Congress and the states have their own powers, which the administration can’t just take over because it wants to,” Yost said.

Police power to enforce mandates falls within a state’s authority, not the federal government’s authority, he said. Congress also did not give the president authority to issue such a broad mandate.

Two sheriffs and a prosecutor from Ohio joined the legal action: Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand and Prosecutor Jim Flaiz, both from Geauga County, and Seneca County Sheriff Fredrick Stevens.

Yost predicts the mandate will result in the release of “dangerous ICE detainees” from county jails across the state.

“We have sheriffs that are going to lose a lot of talented deputies to this mandate, and they’ll ultimately give up their contracts to house ICE detainees rather than see that happen,” Yost said. “Forcing that kind of choice on people who dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe creates a needless situation in which everyone loses.”

Sheriff’s offices are not the only entities in Ohio with federal contracts, Yost said, noting that the defense, higher education, medical and shipping industries also have them, as well as the state of Ohio itself.

“A simple online job search shows that many such industries are already desperately looking for workers to fill jobs vital to safety and commerce,” Yost office said in a news release.

Nationwide, the Department of Labor reports federal contractors account for about a fifth of the labor force.

The coalition of attorneys general filing the lawsuit says the potential workforce loss poses a significant threat to state economies, as it could exacerbate ongoing gaps in the supply chain.

Read a copy of the lawsuit here.

This is the latest in a series of legal actions Yost and Cameron have taken this year to try to stop what say is more federal overreach:

  • Yost sought an injunction in March after the federal government offered Ohio $5.4 billion in badly needed pandemic assistance with the condition that the state had to agree to unspecified limits on its power to cut taxes. Yost won that case.
  • In August, Yost and 17 other states filed suit after two agencies rewrote federal law on sexual discrimination — a responsibility they contend belongs to Congress. The lawsuit challenges, among other things, that the Department of Education unilaterally expanded Title IX to apply to sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission moved to mandate that employers adopt practices regarding pronouns, access to shared bathrooms and other such matters.
  • In October, Yost and 19 other states wrote the Treasury Department to oppose a new federal policy that would provide the federal government with access to nearly every American’s bank account and financial transaction information.
  • Also last month, Yost sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure the agency continues public integrity improvements to family planning clinics made in 2019. Those improvements required federally funded family-planning clinics to (1) be physically and financially independent of abortion clinics and (2) refrain from referring patients for abortions. Eleven other states joined his lawsuit.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he has yet to read the lawsuit when asked Thursday.

He said everyone has the right to file a lawsuit, Kentucky has to follow the law based on the court’s decision.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita says the state plans to file a lawsuit Thursday afternoon challenging the Biden administration’s mandate requiring federal contractors to be vaccinated.

Rokita says the state expects to file a separate lawsuit Friday against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate, which will require Americans who work at companies with 100 or more employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The state will file a third lawsuit next week, pushing back against a vaccine mandate for those who work in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid.

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Copyright 2021 WXIX. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.