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FLORIDA — It’s a done deal. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is officially suing the Biden administration over the constitutionality of the employer COVID-19 vaccine mandate by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Friday.
“We started with 15 days to slow the spread, and now it’s get jabbed or lose your job,” said the Republican governor. “We’re supposed to be a government of laws, not a government of men. This OSHA rule is 500 pages of a government of bureaucracy, a government that is being run by executive edict, not a government bound by constitutional constraints.”
Nearly 20 states have now filed suit against the Biden administration’s mandate that all federal employees and all employees who work for companies that received federal contracts be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody joins attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming in filing suit against the Biden administration. All these states have Republican governors except Kansas.
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“The remarkable ease at which this president will abandon the rule of law and separation of powers is astonishing and devastating to the autonomy of American workers,” Moody said during a news conference Thursday. “For this reason, I will take swift legal action to stop this unprecedented overreach by the federal government — to protect Florida and our workers from the unlawful edicts emanating from President Biden and his handlers.”
Moody called President Joe Biden’s mandate an overreach of his federal powers.
“The president does not have the power to force health policy through a workplace safety department,” she said “That’s not what Congress intended when they created OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and it’s not a lawful use of the U.S. Department of Labor.”
The suits maintain that the president doesn’t have the authority to issue the rule and that it violates procurement law. The suits also argue that the rule violates the 10th Amendment reserving power to the states and illegally uses federal spending to coerce the states.
Under the rule, federal employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22, according to the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. Employees of federal contractors and subcontractors have until Dec. 8 to be fully vaccinated.
“There is no federal police power and the federal government cannot unilaterally impose medical policy under the guise of workplace regulation,” DeSantis said. “Individuals should make informed choices about their own health care.”
He said the rule will send thousands of people who have decided for personal reasons against getting vaccinating to the unemployment lines, a bad precedent at a time when the American economy is just beginning to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to filing the suit against the Biden administration, DeSantis will convene a special session of the Legislature “to provide protections for Floridians who have lost their jobs or are having their employment threatened due to vaccine mandates.” The special session will begin Nov. 15 and go no later than Nov. 19, he said.
Among the legislation he wants the House and Senate to consider is ways to protect prospective employees from discrimination due to their vaccination status and provide assurances that employees who lose their jobs due to their vaccination status are able to obtain unemployment benefits.
State Democrats were quick to respond to DeSantis’ latest actions in his ongoing vaccination feud with Biden.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis has doubled down again on policies to sabotage our nation’s health and slow our economic recovery,” Florida Democratic Party chairman Manny Diaz said. “Calling a special session to further hamper efforts to vaccinate our population and to more efficiently deny local governments, schools and businesses the option to adopt prudent health protocols to combat the pandemic goes beyond irresponsibility; it is a full-on assault on our state’s public health and provides more evidence of the governor’s anti-business and anti-freedom inclinations.”
He said that just as the impact of the delta variant of the coronavirus winds down, “DeSantis is redoubling his efforts to ensure that COVID-19 continues to ravage our state for as long as possible. With an ever-present possibility of more deadly or contagious variants developing and causing more illness, deaths and economic damage, there is simply no worse time to insist on his cynical political games designed to thrill the radical anti-vaccine, anti-masking extremists in the GOP base.”
Florida Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) took to social media to blast DeSantis for what he views as the governor’s hypocrisy.
“Every lawmaker had weekly COVID tests during last legislative session,” Bracy said. “It was smart policy. It stopped the spread. And it worked. Now DeSantis wants to block the same policy that his own party supported.”
In a joint statement issued Thursday, Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) said they not only applauded DeSantis’ actions but would also like the Legislature to consider separating from OSHA and creating Florida’s own safety and health standards “that reflect the views and values of our state.”
“It has become even clearer that OSHA is being weaponized by the Biden administration not to protect workers, but to institute an illegal and unconstitutional nationwide vaccine mandate that robs Americans of the dignity of work,” read the statement.