Attorneys general in New Hampshire and 10 other states filed suit Friday against President Joe Biden’s administration, challenging a new vaccine requirement for workers at companies with more than 100 employees.
The lawsuit filed in the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals argues that the authority to compel vaccinations rests with the states, not the federal government.
New Hampshire Attorney general John M. Formella said the mandate would burden businesses and employers.
“As I have said previously, the available Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and every eligible person in New Hampshire is encouraged to get a Covid-19 vaccine,” he said. “However, the new Emergency Temporary Standard issued by OSHA is illegal and would impose significant burdens on New Hampshire businesses and their employees. We are therefore obligated to take action to protect the interests of our State’s citizens and businesses.”
New regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus weekly and wear masks on the job. The requirement is to kick in Jan. 4. Failure to comply could result in penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.
The Biden administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations as the quickest way out of the pandemic. A White House spokeswoman said Thursday that the mandate was intended to halt the spread of a disease that has claimed more than 750,000 lives in the U.S.
The top legal official for the U.S. Department of Labor, which includes OSHA, has said legal precedent allows it to issue rules that keep workplaces safe and that those rules pre-empt state laws.
Missouri and New Hampshire were joined in the lawsuit by the Republican attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The office of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, also joined in the suit, along with several private, nonprofit and religious employers.
The Daily Wire, a conservative media company, filed a challenge in federal court on Thursday. So did companies in Michigan and Ohio represented by a conservative advocacy law firm, as well as two Wisconsin manufacturers represented by a conservative law firm.