SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and 23 other attorneys general (AGs) sent a letter to President Biden today, warning that litigation will follow the implementation of the proposed mandate on private-sector employees to either get a COVID-19 shot, submit to weekly testing, or be fired.
Reyes is on the leadership team among the coalition of attorneys general. The group outlined their legal and policy concerns with the mandate, which will be carried out through an Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) emergency temporary standard.
“I am committed to continuing leading my colleagues to push back and fight this mandate all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” stated Attorney General Reyes.
“Both employers and employees in Utah, with unprecedented fervor, have flooded my office with messages of dire concern and extreme opposition to the proposed mandate. I firmly agree.”
The proposed mandates are offensive on a number of levels: they violate constitutional separation of powers, reasonable notions of federalism and vastly expand the invasive reach of federal agencies under the guise of “emergency powers.”
As announced, the mandates are not tailored to real world business realities such as telecommuting and threaten jobs when the workforce is most vulnerable financially.
We call on President Biden to withdraw his proposed standards. Forcing them on the business community will be disastrous from a legal, policy and financial standpoint and it will further divide America,” said Attorney General Reyes.
History has shown that the judicial branch is highly skeptical of the use of OSHA emergency temporary standards because of concerns about federalism and the separation of powers. Further, the AGs raise concerns about the expansion of a federal regulatory agency and public perception of the order’s constitutionality.
The coalition of AGs goes beyond legal arguments to address practical policy considerations of such a sweeping order. Most concerning is the potential to drive individuals out of the workforce, particularly healthcare workers, who are most needed right now to fight the pandemic. Additionally, this mandate ignores the tens of millions of Americans with natural immunity and will drive further skepticism of vaccines.
Last, and perhaps most importantly, the AGs note there are alternatives to a broad, nationwide order. The letter states, “The risks of COVID-19 spread also vary widely depending on the nature of the business in question, many of which can have their employees, for example, work remotely.
The one-size-fits-almost-all approach you have decreed makes clear that you intend to use the OSHA statute as a pretext to impose an unprecedented, controversial public health measure on a nationwide basis that only incidentally concerns the workplace.”
Utah was joined on the letter by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.