Thanks to a Network of state think tanks, countless businesses and millions of American workers were not forced to comply with a one-size-fits-all government mandate from Washington, DC.
In November 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a rule that stated 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.
The proposed rule ignited a lengthy public debate on whether the Biden Administration had the constitutional authority to issue such a broad mandate. If enacted, the vaccine requirement would apply to almost 80 million Americans. It also raised questions of federalism—or America’s system of government where power is shared between the state and national governments. Would the states, who are more aware of their communities’ unique circumstances regarding the pandemic, perhaps be better suited to make decisions on public health?
Aside from these important questions, the rule would have devastating implications for thousands of American businesses and workers. When OSHA announced the requirement, America was experiencing a severe worker shortage. In 2021, more than 47 million workers quit their jobs. Thousands of businesses across the country were struggling to find and keep workers. Requiring businesses to enforce a vaccine mandate would make this plight even harder.
With the struggles of these businesses in mind, a group of Network organizations filed lawsuits that challenged the mandate and highlighted the negative impact it would have on the businesses and people in their communities:
As it is so often the case with policy campaigns, when this Network joins together in a common effort, they can have a bigger impact and help more American families. Because there were so many lawsuits that challenged the vaccine requirement, the US Supreme Court consolidated them undertwo court cases.
On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court blocked President Biden’s vaccine mandate for large businesses. Thanks to the efforts of these state think tanks, businesses won’t have to comply with a one-size-fits all mandate from Washington, DC. What’s more, millions of workers won’t be forced to comply with a personal health decision to keep their jobs and provide for their families. Diana Rickert, vice president of the Liberty Justice Center, added: “The SPN movement led with the personal story, and we helped lead the narrative of how this affects regular people. This wasn’t just a blue/red fight in DC.”
The Network’s work to defend Americans from unconstitutional mandates continued even after the Supreme Court struck down this particular mandate for large businesses. On September 21, 2022, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled that the federal government cannot require Head Start program teachers, staff, and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19. In December 2021, teacher Sandy Brick, represented by the Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Institute, filed a lawsuit in the federal court of Louisiana to stop the mandate.
For their tremendous work to highlight the plight of the people in their communities and challenge an unconstitutional rule from Washington, State Policy Network awarded The Buckeye Institute, Liberty Justice Center, Mississippi Center for Justice, Pelican Institute for Public Policy, Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty with the 2022 Network Award.
Presented at SPN’s 30th Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, this award celebrates state and local organizations joining forces to achieve lasting policy change.
Congratulations to these organizations, who gave a voice to the people and businesses in their communities when they needed it most.