ATLANTA — Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has joined 23 other state attorneys general in a letter to President Joe Biden warning of legal action if the White House’s proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate is implemented.
“On Sept. 9, you announced that you would be ordering the Department of Labor to issue an emergency temporary standard, under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, which would mandate that private sector employers either get a COVID-19 shot, submit to weekly testing, or be fired,” the letter said.
“Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive. From a policy perspective, this edict is unlikely to win hearts and minds – it will simply drive further skepticism.”
Also signing the letter were the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Carr and the attorneys general also said Biden’s proposals threaten the nation’s job market.
“At least some Americans will simply leave the job market instead of complying,” they said. “This will further strain an already-too-tight labor market, burdening companies and (therefore) threatening the jobs of even those who have received a vaccine.
“Worse still, many of those who decide to leave their jobs rather than follow your directive will be essential healthcare workers,” the letter continued.
The letter also said Biden’s edict is “illegal. You proposed to enforce your mandate through the rarely used emergency temporary standard provision in the OSH Act. An emergency temporary standard does not have to go through notice and comment and can be made effective immediately upon publication. Because of this lack of process and oversight, courts have viewed these standards with suspicion.”
Gov. Brian Kemp has already signaled he will use whatever legal forces are available to block Biden’s proposal.
“Look, the public already doesn’t trust the federal government because of the mixed messages about the coronavirus,” Kemp told Capitol Beat on Sept. 10. “This is pandemic politics from a president who promised to unite the country, but instead is dividing us.”
“The vaccines have helped protect millions of Americans, and there are surely others who could benefit from obtaining this treatment” the letter concludes. “But convincing those who are hesitant to do so would require you to allow room for discussion and disagreement. Instead, you have offered the American people flimsy legal arguments, contradictory statements, and threatening directives. It is almost as if your goal is to sow division and distrust, rather than promote unity and the public’s health.
“We thus urge you to reconsider your unlawful and harmful plan and allow people to make their own decisions. If your administration does not alter its course, the undersigned state attorneys general will seek every available option to hold you accountable and uphold the rule of law.”
Speaking from the White House last week, Biden said the estimated 80 million Americans who have not been vaccinated have made COVID-19 “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
“And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot.”
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.