Nebraska, Iowa join lawsuit fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors

Nebraska and Iowa are among 10 states suing the Biden administration over the federal vaccination mandate.
Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 4:47 PM CDT
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(WOWT) - Nebraska’s Attorney General is helping to lead a multi-state fight against the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

AG Doug Peterson and Missouri AG Eric Schmitt head a 10-state coalition — that also includes Iowa — that filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court in Missouri fighting the requirement for federal contractors.

Last month, President Biden tasked OSHA with writing a rule that would require all employers with at least 100 workers implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate with the option of mandatory weekly testing that ensures they don’t have the virus in lieu of getting vaccinated.

Still, in a written statement Friday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called the requirements an “unprecedented use of the government to force every employee of every federal contractor in America, including thousands of Iowans, to take a vaccine against their wishes.”

The states’ top lawyers are arguing the “far-reaching order is unconstitutional because it is the states, not the federal government, that are responsible for addressing such matter of public health,” Peterson said in a news release announcing the filing.

“For the first year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, both the Trump and Biden Administrations rightly acknowledged that the federal government lacks the authority to broadly mandate vaccines on the American people. But all that changed on September 9, 2021, when the Biden Administration did an about-face and announced that it would impose a wide-ranging set of vaccine mandates, including one for employees of federal contractors. This far-reaching order is unconstitutional because it is the states, not the federal government, that are responsible for addressing such matters of public health.”

“The ramifications of the federal contractor vaccine mandate are significant,” Attorney General Peterson explained. “It will impact countless employees, exacerbate existing workforce shortages, and create economic instability. Most importantly, it puts individual employees who happened to work for federal contractors out of a job if they simply make the personal choice not to be vaccinated. Hopefully, the court will resolve this legal matter quickly and provide clarity to employees who are understandably concerned about their ability to provide for their families.”

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson

Days after Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts the state seek would seek an injunction as soon as the requirements were unveiled, he issued an executive order Friday prohibiting state agencies from complying with the anticipated mandate.

Ricketts and Reynolds have on many occasions recommended getting vaccinated against COVID-19 — and are themselves vaccinated — but object to any requirement to do so. Of those ages 12 and older, 68.5% of Nebraskans and 61.9% of Iowans are considered fully vaccinated.

“I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but no one should be forced to choose between making a living or standing up for their personal beliefs,” Reynolds said in the news release from her office. “As long as I am governor, the State of Iowa will always stand alongside Iowans and to be sure their freedoms are protected.”

Ricketts has repeatedly criticized the administration for pushing the requirements.

“President Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate is a stunning violation of personal freedom and abuse of the federal government’s power,” he said in a news conference on Wednesday.

Also included in the lawsuit are attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Read the injunction

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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