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Alaska, Other States Sue to Stop OSHA Vaccine Rules

Nov 5, 2021

Governor Mike Dunleavy announced today that the state of Alaska has filed a federal lawsuit to block the implementation of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on private employers and states like Alaska that have a state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plan.

The vaccine requirement is part of an Emergency Temporary Standard published by OSHA today.

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor joined attorneys general from 10 other states to request the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals block OSHA from implementing the rule until after the courts decide on its legality. OSHA’s emergency temporary standard would make it mandatory for all private businesses and certain governments with more than 100 employees to be either vaccinated for COVID-19 or tested weekly. Missouri and the coalition of states are the first to file suit against the vaccine mandate on private employers. Five private employers joined the challenge as well.

“The Biden Administration’s OSHA rule was a long time coming and we have been preparing for months now in anticipation,” said Governor Dunleavy. “President Biden’s attempt to force mandates upon the nation is unconstitutional – it is an attack against the individual’s freedom and a threat against liberty. My administration previously issued an Administrative Order which represents my commitment to Alaskans against President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Alaskans can rest assured I will take every action possible to defend them and their rights. I am not anti-vaccine; I am anti-mandate, and I will stand up against federal overreach.”

The lawsuit claims OSHA has no legal grounds for expanding its authority. The Supreme Court has determined that executive agencies have no power to institute such broad and overarching rules. OSHA’s responsibility is to protect Americans against workplace hazards, not enforce rules that significantly impact religious liberty and personal freedoms.

“OSHA’s emergency temporary standard violates the separation of powers and infringes upon the right of all Americans to decide for themselves whether a COVID-19 vaccine is right for them,” Attorney General Taylor said. “This mandate is unconstitutional, and we have made strong arguments as to why the courts should block implementation of OSHA’s rule.”

OSHA should have taken into account the potential religious objections of employees to the vaccine mandate and it should have considered other alternatives for those with natural immunity to COVID-19, the suit stated. The suit referred to the rule as an “overreach by a massive federal bureaucracy,” which previous courts have invalidated.

“OSHA cannot use the fact that hundreds of millions of Americans are employed in the national economy to regulate all facets of their lives with only attenuated workplace connections. But the Biden Administration has effectively admitted that this is precisely the role the Vaccine Mandate is intended to perform,” the court filing states.

Moreover, the OSHA rule creates a “Hobson’s choice” for employees, subject to either losing their jobs or forfeiting their personal freedom and bodily integrity.

“The President is not a king and he does not get to make up the law and control the individual,” said Governor Dunleavy. “This is why he lost the eviction moratorium and why he will lose again. Health measures are a traditional state and local power under the 10th Amendment.”

Alaska joined Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming in the petition filed today.

Read the full lawsuit here.