COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and six other attorneys general sued the Biden administration in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Friday, asserting that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lacks authority to force tens of millions of Americans in the private sector to get vaccinated.
The states are asking the Sixth Circuit to stop implementation of the vaccine mandate while the case is litigated.
“A nationwide vaccine mandate that has nothing to do with workplace risk is a dangerous and unlawful use of executive power,” Yost said. “Congress has not given the president the power to make personal health-care decisions for all Americans who just so happen to work at a company with at least 100 employees.”
Despite warnings from attorneys general across the country about the legality of a vaccine mandate, the Biden administration formally issued the emergency temporary standard Friday.
The coalition of attorneys general argues that the power to issue emergency temporary standards was delegated to OSHA by Congress for the express purpose of protecting employees from grave dangers posed by exposure to substances or harmful toxins encountered at work, such as benzyne or beryllium.
They argue that authority does not extend to risks that are equally prevalent at work as at home, the grocery store, or, say, the Met Gala.
The coalition writes in the lawsuit that just last year, “OSHA refused to issue a nationwide emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 because ‘COVID-19 is a community-wide hazard that is not unique to the workplace.’”
The coalition also contends the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate prohibits sovereign states from enacting and enforcing their own policies in response to the pandemic.
“Each Petitioner State has enacted its own laws and policies — or declined to issue certain mandates — in a way that balances the need for public health with the right of its citizens,” the lawsuit says. OSHA’s mandate takes away that power from the states and prevents policymakers from enacting policies that benefit their respective states.
Yost joined the lawsuit alongside attorneys general from Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.