State Policy Network
States respond to President Biden’s vaccine mandate

On November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a rule that says businesses with 100 or more employees must require those employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination or submit to regular coronavirus tests by January 4, 2022.

OSHA’s COVID vaccine mandate ignited a national debate on whether or not the Biden administration has the authority to issue such a mandate. But as constitutional scholars, the media, and political pundits analyze the legal arguments, there’s a relevant question that has yet to be raised: When it comes to protecting our families and communities from the coronavirus, how has the federal government done?

With the pandemic upending the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans, it’s important to consider the federal government’s performance over the last 19 months. Is another one-size-fits-all mandate from distant leaders in Washington the best approach to handling the coronavirus outbreak? Could state and local leaders, closer to the people in their communities and aware of the unique circumstances on the ground, perhaps do a better job?

A Network of state and local policy organizations are raising these questions and standing up for the people and businesses in their communities that will be negatively impacted by OSHA’s vaccine mandate. In their legal challenges against the mandate, these organizations are highlighting how this new rule will devastate businesses and communities in their states.

Buckeye Institute lawsuit highlights the unnecessary economic damage Biden’s vaccine mandate will have on Midwestern communities

The Buckeye Institute filed a lawsuit and motion for emergency stay to halt Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate. Buckeye filed the lawsuit on behalf of Phillips Manufacturing & Tower Company of Shelby, Ohio, and Sixarp, LLC of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many of Phillips’ workers would leave the company if they were forced to comply with the vaccine mandate. Buckeye noted that if the mandate is implemented, it would cost Phillips nearly $1 million each year.

The second client in Buckeye’s lawsuit, Sixarp, is a Michigan based company that provides packaging services for products, including over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals. Sixarp employs more than 600 people, including dozens of workers in Ohio. Buckeye pointed out Sixarp is a critical component of the US supply chain that is already facing worker shortages, and this mandate would make those shortages even worse.

The Pelican Institute and Liberty Justice Center stand up for grocery store owner and remote employees

With help from the Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Institute for Public Policy, a prominent Louisiana business owner and a group of remote workers from Texas filed a federal lawsuit to strike down the Biden Administration’s illegal vaccine mandate on private sector employees. Pelican and LJC are representing Brandon Trosclair, a grocery store owner who employs 475 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. Trosclair, a father of two who is active in his community, doesn’t believe the government should force him to interfere in the private medical decisions of his employees. He is already having trouble finding and keeping workers, and this mandate will make that problem even worse.

The six Texas workers involved in the lawsuit work remotely and can’t spread the coronavirus while doing their jobs. 

The day after LJC and Pelican filed the lawsuit, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals suspended the OSHA vaccine mandate “(b)ecause the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate.”

Mississippi Justice Institute sues Biden Administration on behalf of family restaurant owner in the Magnolia State

The Mississippi Justice Institute—the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy—filed suit to challenge the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers. MJI is representing Gulf Coast Restaurant Group, a corporate family of restaurants including Half Shell Oyster House and the Rackhouse. The Institute is also partnering with the Mississippi Attorney General, who is representing Mississippi in the lawsuit filed by a coalition of states against OSHA’s COVID vaccine mandate.

Kevin Fish, Vice President of Gulf Coast Restaurant Group, said he’s pro-vaccination, but disagrees with the mandate: “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.”

Texas Public Policy Foundation files suit on behalf of staffing agencies in Texas

The Texas Public Policy Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on behalf of a coalition of Texas temporary staffing businesses. These businesses believe the decision to get the vaccine should be a personal one, not a decision mandated by the federal government. On November 6, 2021, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s emergency motion to stay enforcement of the mandate.

WILL challenges OSHA’s authority to issue sweeping emergency rule on behalf of two Wisconsin manufacturing businesses

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued the Biden administration in federal court on behalf of two Wisconsin businesses. In the lawsuit, WILL points out that instead of going through the normal notice and comment period for federal regulations, OSHA is enacting something called the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to issue this mandate, which allows the agency to issue any “necessary” orders to address a “grave danger.” WILL is challenging OSHA’s authority and rationale to enact the ETS.

The Institute is representing Tankcraft Corporation, a metal fabrication company that employs 225 employees, and Plasticraft Corporation, a manufacturing company that molds hollow plastic parts and employs nearly 160 Americans. Both these companies operate in facilities with thousands of square feet and open air. The Secretary and Treasurer of Tankcraft and Plasticraft, Steve Fettig, argues OSHA does not know how to best run companies and keep employees safe, American businesses do.

Vaccine mandates: Best left to local leaders?

As with so many other policy areas, when it comes to the coronavirus, Americans don’t have a great deal of faith in federal government—and with good reason. Unlike politicians in Washington, DC, these officials have to live in the communities they oversee. Rather than use a one-size-fits-all edict to force vaccine compliance, a more democratic approach would allow state and local governments to make decisions about public health.

Read more on the Network’s vaccine mandate challenges:

The Buckeye Institute Files Motion for Emergency Stay to Halt Biden’s Unconstitutional Vaccine Mandate on Private Employers
The Buckeye Institute

The Buckeye Institute Files Lawsuit Against Biden’s Unconstitutional Vaccine Mandate on Private Businesses
The Buckeye Institute

Biden’s Lawless Vaccine Mandate
The Buckeye Institute in The Wall Street Journal

Federal Court Suspends Federal Vaccine Mandate
Liberty Justice Center

Louisiana Business Owner And Remote Workers From Texas Sue To Halt OSHA Vaccine Mandate
Liberty Justice Center

Three Things to Know About the OSHA Vaccine Mandate
Liberty Justice Center

MJI Sues Biden Administration
Mississippi Justice Institute

Ascension Parish Business Owner Sues Biden Administration Over Vaccine Mandate
Pelican Institute for Public Policy

Brandon Trosclair: Fighting For His Community
Pelican Institute for Public Policy

Federal Appeals Court Suspends Federal Vaccine Mandate
Pelican Institute for Public Policy

TPPF, AFL Challenge Biden’s Unconstitutional Vaccine Mandate
Texas Public Policy Foundation

WILL Sues Biden Admin. Over OSHA Vaccine-Or-Test Mandate On Businesses
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty

Additional Resources:

Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020-2021

Categories: News
Organization: State Policy Network