Ohio and Kentucky AGs Sue to Block Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors

The vaccine requirement says that federal contractors must get their shots by Jan. 4. And Yost seems particularly preoccupied with how that will impact sheriffs deputies and ICE detainees.

Nov 4, 2021 at 5:07 pm
click to enlarge (L to R): Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron - Photo: Both Official Office Portraits
Photo: Both Official Office Portraits
(L to R): Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron

A lawsuit to block the Biden Administration’s recent vaccine mandate for federal contractors has been filed by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the Attorney General from Tennessee, calling the president’s move “an unlawful executive order.”  

The vaccine requirement, which says that federal contractors must get their shots by Jan. 4, was pushed back from the original Dec. 8 deadline, and now matches the same date set for similar rules for large private companies and health care providers.

Cameron, Yost and Tennessee's Herbert H. Slatery III, as well as two county sheriffs from Ohio, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. In the complaint, the plaintiffs said they “seek judicial relief from the President’s unlawful and unconstitutional vaccine mandate.”

“The federal government contracts with private businesses and public agencies in states across the country, and the Commonwealth is no exception, meaning that numerous Kentuckians are subject to the Biden Administration’s unconstitutional vaccination requirement,” Cameron said in a press release.  “We are taking the issue of federal overreach seriously and will protect the livelihoods of countless Kentuckians and Kentucky businesses from overbroad mandates.”

The Kentucky and Ohio portions of the lawsuit also claim that several workers at county jails throughout the state would end their employment if the requirement stands, which, they said, will “exacerbate the current staffing challenges at these institutions and threaten public safety.”

"We have sheriffs that are going to lose a lot of talented deputies to this mandate, and they’ll ultimately give up their contracts to house ICE detainees rather than see that happen,” Ohio AG Yost said in a release. “Forcing that kind of choice on people who dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe creates a needless situation in which everyone loses."

“If our jails see no option but refusing federal ICE detainees, what happens to those detainees, who are prioritized for removal for committing heinous crimes in our communities and posing national security threats? None of us wants to find out,” Yost continued. “That’s just one important reason why I’m suing to end this illegal mandate.”

In August, St. Elizabeth and five other major Greater Cincinnati healthcare systems announced that they would require employees, providers, contractors and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by this fall, with St. Elizabeth giving an Oct. 1 deadline.

Employees (or former employees) of St. Elizabeth Healthcare sued, believing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement to be unconstitutional. But in September, the hospital system won the judgement. Unswayed by their arguments, U.S. District Judge David Bunning in Covington ruled that St. Elizabeth had the right to set employment terms, Reuters reports.

Across the country, threats of mass employee walkouts over vaccine mandates have not panned out. In New York, police unions threatened that 10,000 officers would leave because of the mandate, but, a day after the mandate went into effect, only 34 had been placed on unpaid leave, according to The Washington Post.

The Biden Administration said on Thursday that the combined vaccine mandates cover about 100 million employees or about two-thirds of the U.S. workforce. The president was hesitant to incorporate hardline vaccine rules during the beginning of the vaccine rollout, but said it’s now necessary. 

“While I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good,” Biden said in a statement.

A version of this story was originally published by CityBeat sister paper LEO Weekly.

Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.