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Missouri attorney general sues Biden administration over federal contractor vaccine mandate

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JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Friday followed through on a promise he made earlier this week to sue President Joe Biden’s administration over its rule that federal contractors enforce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, accuses the Biden administration of violating federal procurement and administrative procedure laws. The lawsuit charges the effort is unconstitutional.

Biden’s order, which he announced Sept. 9, is one of several executive actions by the Democratic president in an effort to boost COVID-19 vaccinations amid hesitancy from much of the American public.

Schmitt filed his lawsuit with Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. Eight other states signed on: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

“Today, I led a 10-state coalition in filing a lawsuit to halt the Biden administration’s unlawful, unconstitutional vaccine mandate for federal contractors,” Schmitt said in a statement.

Another group of states — Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia — filed a separate lawsuit in federal district court in Georgia.

Texas also sued individually on Friday.

And Florida filed a separate lawsuit challenging the contractor mandate on Thursday.

In all, 19 states — all Republican-led — are suing.

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers who are employed by a federal contractor make up one-fifth of the entire labor market,” Schmitt said. “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.”

A spokesperson for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Biden on Sept. 9 sharply criticized the tens of millions of Americans who were not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said, all but biting off his words. The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”

Schmitt has also vowed to sue over a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that will mandate vaccinations for employers with 100 or more workers.

His Friday filing followed an executive order by Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday directing state offices within the executive branch to cooperate with the attorney general’s lawsuits against federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Schmitt is one of five well-known Republicans running for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat next year. Others include former Gov. Eric Greitens, St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey, and U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long.

He has led a number of headline-grabbing lawsuits as he attempts to distinguish himself from the rest of the GOP field.

Schmitt on Monday joined a group of attorneys general to file a lawsuit seeking a ban on abortion referrals by family planning clinics in an attempt to bring back a policy implemented under former President Donald Trump.

Last week, Schmitt traveled to the U.S.-Texas border to announce a lawsuit with the Texas attorney general seeking to force construction of a southern border wall.

He has also challenged actions by local governments, targeting mask mandates in St. Louis and St. Louis County as well as in public school districts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Updated Saturday at 7 a.m.

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