Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor joined 23 other attorneys general in a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday, warning they will sue if the Biden Administration implements the president’s mandate for employers with over 100 employees to force their workers to either get a Covid-19 shot, submit to weekly testing, or be fired.
The coalition of AGs outlined their legal and policy concerns with the mandate, which will be carried out through an Occupational Safety and Health Act emergency temporary standard.
“Using a blunt tool such as OSHA’s emergency temporary standard provision to pass such an overreaching and arbitrary policy, on something as sensitive as a vaccine mandate is unreasonable as well as illegal,” said Attorney General Taylor. “Due process must be provided for any policy that affects such a large swath of Americans, and it needs to be better tailored to the workplace issue being addressed. What if an employer has 100 employees that are all teleworking and the business next door has 99 employees all working in-person in close quarters? What is the rationale?”
History has shown that the judicial branch is highly skeptical of the use of OSHA emergency temporary standards because of concerns about federalism and the separation of powers, Taylor said in a news release. Further, the AGs raise concerns about the expansion of a federal regulatory agency and public perception of the order’s constitutionality.
The coalition of AGs goes beyond legal arguments to address practical policy considerations of such a sweeping order. Most concerning is the potential to drive individuals out of the workforce, particularly healthcare workers, who are most needed now to fight the pandemic. Additionally, this mandate ignores the tens of millions of Americans with natural immunity and will drive further skepticism of vaccines.
The group of state attorneys said there are alternatives to a broad, nationwide order.
The letter states, “The risks of COVID-19 spread also vary widely depending on the nature of the business in question, many of which can have their employees, for example, work remotely. The one-size-fits-almost-all approach you have decreed makes clear that you intend to use the OSHA statute as a pretext to impose an unprecedented, controversial public health measure on a nationwide basis that only incidentally concerns the workplace.”
Alaska was joined on the letter by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.