Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools in South Dakota, the Christian Employers Alliance, based in North Dakota, and Home School Legal Defense Association joined several states in filing a petition Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.
They are challenging the legality and constitutionality of the Biden administration’s mandate that requires all private employers of 100 or more employees to force unvaccinated employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, be subject to weekly testing and masking requirements, or lose their job. ADF attorneys also intend to ask the court to suspend enforcement of the mandate, issued via the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, while the litigation moves forward.
The lawsuit—in which ADF attorneys represent the religious employers, and the attorneys general of the states of Missouri, Arizona, Montana, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, New Hampshire, and Wyoming represent their states as lead petitioners—will explain that the Biden administration lacks constitutional and statutory authority to issue the employer mandate, and that the mandate failed to meet the required procedural hurdles.
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In short, the states and religious employers argue that the federal government cannot coerce individuals nationwide to undergo medical treatment, and it lacks authority to conscript employers to compel that result. The lawsuit, State of Missouri v. Biden, takes no position on any COVID-19 vaccine or whether any person should make the personal decision to receive it.
“The administration’s decision to mandate vaccines through an emergency standard issued by OSHA is unlawful and compels employers like our clients to intrude on their employees’ personal health decisions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker. “The government has no authority to tell 80 million people that they must be vaccinated or tested, and it cannot compel employers to become vaccine agents to achieve that same illegal result. We are pleased to join this coalition of states in asking the 8th Circuit to put a stop to it immediately.”
Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools, which is based in Sioux Falls and represents eight Catholic schools throughout South Dakota, has employees who have received a COVID-19 vaccine and those who have not. Home School Legal Defense Association believes vaccination is a matter of personal conscience, and the Christian Employers Alliance has many religious for-profit and non-profit members around the country that are subject to the rule, including a business in Arkansas that encourages its employees to receive the vaccine but opposes coercing its employees if they have conscientious objections.