October 29, 2021 (Anchorage) – Alaska and nine other states have filed a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced today.
Under the mandate, a private business would be required to force its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before it could be awarded a federal contract or have an existing contract with the federal government extended or renewed. President Biden issued the mandate in a Sept. 9 executive order, and contractors have until December to comply.
“President Biden’s attempt to force vaccinations is, at the root of it, unamerican,” said Governor Dunleavy. “These mandates cause division at a time where we need to work together. Forced medical decisions are counterintuitive – destroying America’s sense of fairness and liberty. My administration will continue to fight against these mandates to protect the inherent individual rights of all Alaskans. Medical choice is an individual American freedom.”
Attorney General Treg Taylor joined the lawsuit on behalf of Alaska. The filing maintains that the contractor rule is ambiguous and inconsistent with other regulations and existing laws. There is confusion about whether businesses with existing federal contracts would be subject to the mandate and how broadly the requirement would be applied across companies. Most importantly, the lawsuit argues Biden overstepped his legal authority when he issued the order.
“Our laws prohibit this type of action, which is overreaching and inconsistently applied,” Taylor said. “This order improperly tries to use the force of law to punish federal contractors for decisions that should be left to them and their employees. Fortunately, federal and state law prohibits these bully tactics.”
The lawsuit states that the vaccine mandate is unconstitutional, arguing, “Defendants, through their vaccine mandate, have exercised power far beyond what was delegated to the federal government by constitutional mandate or congressional action. Neither Article II of the U.S. Constitution nor any act of Congress authorizes defendants to implement their vaccine mandate. The power to impose vaccine mandates, to the extent that any such power exists, is a power reserved to the States.”
The lawsuit alleges federal agencies are arbitrarily applying the mandate to their vendors, leaving further questions as to its legality. The contractor mandate also conflicts with another overreaching executive order affecting private businesses with more than 100 employees. Under that order, employees would be required to either receive the vaccine or undergo regular testing. There’s not a testing option for contractors.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s rush to impose rules on contractors left many unanswered questions. There is uncertainty as to whether the federal government might try to require existing contractors to have its employees vaccinated and whether a vendor’s refusal to implement the mandate might cause it to be “blackballed” from future contracts.
On the scope of the federal contractor vaccine mandate, the lawsuit notes that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, “workers employed by federal contractors” comprise roughly one-fifth of the entire U.S. labor force. The lawsuit notes, “On its face, the contractor vaccine mandate therefore applies to any employee of a contractor or subcontractor who is a party to a federal contract, even if the work they do is wholly unrelated to the contract, and even if it is not certain they will ever be working in a location with an employee who is actually working on a federal contract.”
In addition, many contractors have said they would be unable to have 100 percent of employees vaccinated by Dec. 8. That could exacerbate supply-chain problems across the country and further weaken the economy.
States included in the lawsuit are Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Click here to view the lawsuit.