AG Schmidt continues fight against COVID vaccine mandates on shaky legal grounds

FILE - Attorney General Derek Schmidt (June 16, 2021)
FILE - Attorney General Derek Schmidt (June 16, 2021)(WIBW)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 12:59 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Attorney General Derek Schmidt is continuing the fight against COVID-19 vaccination mandates, which he says stand on shaky legal grounds.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he noted a new federal vaccination mandate stands on shaky legal grounds and is propped up by inconsistent federal directives which require compliance on an unworkable timeline in the midst of a supply chain crisis. He said he and 20 other state attorneys general called on President Joe Biden on Wednesday, Oct. 27, to halt implementation of the mandatory vaccination requirements for federal contractors.

“The Biden Administration’s attempt to muscle into federal contracts an unprecedented provision requiring contractors to employ only vaccinated people is a cynical attempt to outpace judicial review,” Schmidt said. “But this federal contractor mandate, like other vaccination mandates the Biden administration is promoting loudly and at breakneck pace, likely exceeds the power vested in the federal government, and we intend to challenge it in court. The Biden administration wants to coerce companies and state agencies, including universities, into complying before the judicial system has time to act, but those companies and agencies should proceed with caution and not be stampeded.”

On Sept. 9, AG Schmidt said President Biden issued an executive order to direct federal departments and agencies to include a clause in federal contracts which requires all contractors and subcontractors to ensure adequate COVID-19 safety protocols.

On Sept. 24, pursuant to Biden’s executive order, Schmidt said the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued guidance that imposed a COVID-19 vaccination mandate more expansive than what the president had ordered. He said the guidance is internally inconsistent and at odds with actions taken elsewhere by the federal government.

On Sept. 30, Schmidt said the administration issued the proposed contract language. Since then, he said federal agencies have been pushing contractors to quickly agree to the new provisions.

“[W]e strongly urge you to instruct the Task Force and federal agencies to halt any efforts to implement the federal contractor mandate,” the attorneys general wrote to the President. “All citizens – including federal contractors – have the right to make their own decision about whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At the very least, you should provide additional guidance addressing the ambiguities and inconsistencies in the mandate, ensure that guidance is applied uniformly, and allow agencies and contractors additional time to comply.”

As various federal agencies begin to issue their implementing memoranda and guidance, Schmidt said federal contractors have faced a series of conflicting directives.

Instead of help from the Biden administration in making sense of the inconsistencies, Schmidt said contractors have faced short deadlines with the threat of being blacklisted or losing federal contracts for noncompliance.

As a result, Schmidt said many contractors have rushed to comply without questioning or resisting the dramatic and sudden change in federal requirements and some have even interpreted the new provision broadly to minimize risks of noncompliance.

Schmidt said the federal contractor vaccination mandate is separate and distinct from another mandate being proposed for private businesses that employ at least 100 people. He said he previously announced he and a coalition of attorneys general will challenge that mandate, which has been developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but by law, they cannot file legal challenges until the mandate is finalized and comes into existence with formal publication.

The Kansas Attorney General said he continues to encourage residents of the Sunflower State to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but also strongly believes the decision is a health care decision to be made by each person, not mandated by the federal government.

“No Americans should be threatened by their government with losing their jobs because their health care decisions differ from those preferred by the President of the United States,” Schmidt said.

To read a full copy of the letter, click HERE.

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