COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Eleven states filed lawsuits Friday to stop President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors, arguing that the requirement violates federal law.
Attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming signed on to the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal district court in Missouri.
The states asked a federal judge to block Biden's requirement that all employees of federal contractors be vaccinated against the coronavirus, arguing that the mandate violates federal procurement law and is an overreach of federal power.
"If the federal government attempts to unconstitutionally exert its will and force federal contractors to mandate vaccinations, the workforce and businesses could be decimated, further exacerbating the supply chain and workforce crises," Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, said in a statement. "The federal government should not be mandating vaccinations, and that's why we filed suit today – to halt this illegal, unconstitutional action."
New Hampshire's Republican Attorney General John Formella said in a statement that COVID vaccines are safe, effective and encouraged but that the benefits "do not justify violating the law."
That lawsuit, along with one filed Friday by Texas and Thursday by Florida, brings to 12 the number of states challenging the Biden administration mandate in three federal courts.
Biden has argued that sweeping vaccine mandates will help end the deadly pandemic, but Republicans nationwide have opposed the vaccination requirements and have threatened to bring similar legal challenges.
Texas filed a similar lawsuit Friday in a federal district court in a federal court in Galveston, Texas, seeking to block enforcement of the mandate.
"The Biden Administration has expressed its disdain for Americans who choose not to get a vaccine, and it has committed repeated and abusive federal overreach to force upon Americans something they do not want," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, in a statement. "The federal government does not have the ability to strip individuals of their choice to get a vaccine or not. If the President thinks his patience is wearing thin, he is clearly underestimating the lack of patience from Texans whose rights he is infringing."
Another group of states led by Georgia announced Friday that they would file a similar federal lawsuit in that state to try to block the contractor requirements. Other states that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said are joining the case include Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, West Virginia and Utah, as well as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
The suit had not been filed when it was announced, and Georgia officials did not immediately provide a copy of the complaint.
"We will not allow the Biden administration to circumvent the law or force hardworking Georgians to choose between their livelihood or this vaccine," Kemp, a Republican, said in a statement.
The Democratic Party of Georgia called the lawsuit a "dangerous political stunt."
Florida filed a separate lawsuit against the federal mandate on Thursday. That lawsuit also alleged the president doesn't have the authority to issue the rule and that it violates procurement law.