Attorney General Knudsen sues to block Biden illegal vaccine mandate for private employers
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen filed a lawsuit today asking a federal court to immediately block the Biden administration’s newly released COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers. If allowed to take effect, the illegal mandate will harm Montana employers and employees who are already struggling.
Attorney General Knudsen – along with ten other state attorneys general and three private employers – filed a petition for review asking for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to “hold unlawful, vacate, and set aside” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Biden’s ETS would require employers with 100 or more employees to force their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or face unemployment. Businesses found out of compliance with the 490-page federal rule would face fines of approximately $14,000 per infraction.
“If a president can unilaterally force people to submit to a medical procedure they don’t want, then there’s seemingly no limit to the federal government’s control over our lives. President Biden’s illegal mandate is an egregious overreach and sets the country down a dangerous path,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “Forcing these injections on Montanans at the threat of losing their jobs infringes on the rights of our state, individuals, and businesses. Montanans are already suffering under President Biden from supply chain problems and worker shortages. His illegal dictate will only make the crisis worse.”
According to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the illegal mandate would apply to more than 142,000 Montana workers – more than one-third of private-sector employees. Additionally, the ETS/draft interim rule states that the Biden administration is considering similar mandates for smaller businesses.
The petition for review calls the mandate “unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise.”
“The federal government lacks constitutional authority under its enumerated powers to issue this mandate, and its attempt to do so unconstitutionally infringes on the States’ powers expressly reserved by the Tenth Amendment. OSHA also lacks statutory authority to issue this mandate, which it shoe-horned into statutes that govern workplace safety, and which were never intended to federalize public-health policy,” it further states. “For over a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that policies on compulsory vaccination lie within the police powers of the States, and that ‘they are matters that do not ordinarily concern the national government.’ Until quite recently, the Biden Administration agreed. The White House stated on July 23 of this year that mandating vaccines is ‘not the role of the federal government.’”
Following today’s petition for review, Attorney General Knudsen and the assembled coalition will file a motion asking the court to stay the mandate before it could take effect, displace Montana law, and further harm Montana businesses and workers.
The full petition for review can be found here.
Joining Attorney General Knudsen in the lawsuit are attorneys general from Alaska, Arizona, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
In a separate lawsuit, Knudsen and a coalition of attorneys general filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on November 4th against President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors that he issued via executive order on September 9.
In addition to the procedural and factual problems it has in common with the private employer mandate, the contractor mandate is “arbitrary and capricious.”
“The federal agencies implementing it gave literally no consideration to important aspects of the problem—such as the fact that 72 percent of unvaccinated workers say they will forego their jobs rather than succumb to such a mandate,” it states. “Indeed, the mandate’s justification is manifestly pretextual, as the President openly announced that its actual justification is to federalize COVID-19 health policy as part of a nationwide plan to increase vaccination rates, not to improve efficiency in federal procurement.”
That lawsuit was filed last week.
Attorney General Knudsen also continues to defend state law established by House Bill 702 that prohibits vaccination-based discrimination against two meritless lawsuits.