Multiple religious liberty-focused legal organizations are suing the Biden administration over its mandate requiring most private sector businesses to force their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or risk facing insurmountable fines or firing employees.
First Liberty Institute, on behalf of Daystar Television Network, the American Family Association and Answers in Genesis, petitioned the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Sixth Circuits on Friday and asked the judges to “review and set aside” the mandate requiring employers with more than 100 employees to mandate the coronavirus vaccine for their employees or subject them to regular coronavirus testing and required mask wearing.
The petitions come one day after the Biden administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, unveiled the temporary emergency standard. First Liberty contends that the prominent national religious ministries it's representing are “adversely affected” by the vaccine mandate because they “will face workplace shortages if unvaccinated employees quit rather than receive a COVID-19 vaccination.”
The legal challenges also note that petitioners could face “civil penalties up to $70,000” for each willful violation of the vaccine mandate. First Liberty Institute is not the only law firm taking the vaccine mandate to court.
Alliance Defending Freedom announced a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate filed on behalf of The Daily Wire, a conservative news outlet based in Nashville, Tennessee. The lawsuit, titled The Daily Wire v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Thursday.
“The Biden administration’s decision to mandate vaccines through an OSHA emergency rule is unlawful and compels businesses like The Daily Wire to intrude on their employees’ personal health decisions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert in a statement. “The government has no authority to unilaterally treat unvaccinated employees like workplace hazards or to compel employers to become vaccine commissars, and we are asking the 6th Circuit to put a stop to it immediately.”
The Daily Wire's co-founder and Co-CEO Jeremy Boreing said: “The Daily Wire will not comply with President Biden’s tyrannical vaccine mandate, and we've sued the Biden administration to put a stop to their gross overreach. ... Joe Biden, the federal government, social media and the establishment media have all conspired to rob Americans of their freedom in the name of public health. They've broken faith with the American people through conflicting messaging, false information, and by suppressing data and perspectives with which they disagree. And forcing us to take a vaccine at the risk of financial ruin isn't going to rebuild that lost trust."
Harmeet Dhillon of the Dhillon Law Group, which is representing The Daily Wire alongside ADF, asserted that “the federal government lacks the legal authority to compel private employers to play the role of vaccine or COVID police, lacks the police power to force private employees to undergo medical treatment, and may not ignore constitutional limits on its ability to regulate every aspect of our lives.”
“The Biden administration’s attempt to impose this unprecedented and unlawful federal medical mandate on the U.S. workforce without considering the public’s views is arbitrary, capricious, unsupported by the evidence, and would produce a willfully ignorant rule,” she added.
On Friday, ADF filed another lawsuit in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools in South Dakota, the North Dakota-based Christian Employers Alliance and Home School Legal Defense Foundation. The law firm joined the states of Missouri, Arizona, Montana, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, New Hampshire and Wyoming in challenging the administration’s authority to issue the vaccine mandate in State of Missouri v. Biden.
“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,” argued ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker in a statement. “We are pleased to join this coalition of states in asking the 8th Circuit to put a stop to it immediately.”
In a statement, Christian Employers Alliance President Shannon Royce elaborated on her organization’s concerns with the vaccine mandate: “Members of the Christian Employers Alliance go to great lengths to care for the health and wellness of their employees. These for-profit and nonprofit businesses also believe every person has the God-given right of conscience to do what’s in the best interest of themselves and their families.”
“They believe it violates the dignity of their employees for the federal government to force them to accept the COVID-19 vaccine against their conscience,” she stated. Royce also warned that “the disruption costs associated with administering, implementing, and tracking the outcomes required by this mandate, in addition to the penalties and fines, are enough to cripple or close a business in these difficult economic times.”
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh defended the vaccine mandate as necessary to “contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19.” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick asserted that “this emergency temporary standard will protect all workers, including those who remain unvaccinated.”
The vaccine mandate applies to more than 84 million U.S. workers, accounting for two-thirds of the private sector workforce. It was published in the Federal Register on Friday, and from there, companies will have 30 days to comply with most of the mandate’s requirements and 60 days to comply with the testing requirements. Failure to comply with the mandate could result in employers facing fines, and employees who do not comply with the mandate could face termination.
The First Liberty lawsuits, The Daily Wire v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and State of Missouri v. Biden are not the only legal efforts to block the vaccine mandate. At a press conference on Thursday, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced that his office would file a lawsuit against the OSHA mandate in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals after it was published in the federal register.
While data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that more than 193 million Americans, or 58.2% of the U.S. population, are fully vaccinated as of Friday morning, many Americans remain hesitant about taking the coronavirus vaccine due to concerns about the longterm side effects and studies showing that those who have recovered from COVID-19 have stronger protection from future infection than that offered by the vaccines.
Sweden and Denmark paused the use of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine for those younger than 30 due to concerns that it causes some young people — who face less risk from coronavirus than the elderly — to develop heart inflammation. Additionally, many have sought a religious exemption to vaccine mandates because of concerns about the use of aborted fetal tissue in the development of these vaccines.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org