Steve Marshall, Alabama’s attorney general, announced on Twitter Monday that he filed a lawsuit to block a key part of President Biden‘s COVID-19 vaccine mandate he called “flagrantly unconstitutional.”
Marshall, a Republican, focused on the federal contractor mandate. He called the scope vague and wide, and said under the guidelines, contractors who work from home–with no chance of infecting a colleague, are forced to take the jab.
He said part of the reason he filed the suit was to prevent the president from continuing his power grab. Marshall said if one was to follow Biden’s logic, entire families of these contract workers could be forced to take the shot due to the risk of home transmission.
“If he has the authority to force shots on these employees, ostensibly to keep them healthy and working, then by his logic, he would have the authority to require the contracted employee to certify not only that he’s had the shot—but that his wife and kids have, too,” he said.
Marshall said it is easy to write off the theory as a “slippery slope,” but he pointed to the White House’s position on vaccine mandates just months before the Sept. 9 announcement. Jen Psaki, the White House spokeswoman, told the media that it is “not the role of the federal government” to issue these mandates.
Health care workers prepare to administer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccination event in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Photographer: Andi Rice/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Getty)
He said it is his goal that the mandate is never enforced in any state. That mandate goes into effect on Dec. 8.
Marshall issued an advisory earlier instructing Alabama-based employers, including public university employers, to liberally interpret “in favor of the employee” any requests for medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination mandate.
When an employee requests a religious exemption, Marshall said state agencies should not “inquire into the validity of an employee’s religious beliefs, including the motives or reasons for holding the belief.” That deviates from federal guidance where federal employees are asked to participate in an interactive process and bring documentation supporting the request for an exemption.
Demonstrators gather during a protest against the New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate outside Gracie Mansion in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. Photographer: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Getty)
The Wall Street Journal reported that details of how these requirements will work are expected to be released later this week. The paper said the mandate for federal contractors has been widely used by companies to impose their own requirements.
A coalition of more than 10 U.S. attorneys general announced a lawsuit against the Biden administration in an attempt to halt COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federal contractors and federally contracted employees.
The lawsuit, led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, argues that the mandate goes against the Procurement Act, citing 12 counts of violations. States that have joined the lawsuit include Missouri, Nebraska, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with just 44.7% of the population fully vaccinated, compared to a national average of 58%.
In the lawsuit filed late Friday, Alabama claimed that many university and Alabama Department of Public Health employees would “likely quit their jobs rather than receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of further employment.”
Even as the state sues, Auburn University and the University of Alabama campuses have said employees must get vaccinated by Nov. 8 because the campuses all are federal contractors.
Fox News’ Kyle Morris and the Associated Press contributed to this report