North Dakota joins lawsuit against COVID-19 vaccine mandate on federal contractors – Grand Forks Herald

Last month, President Joe Biden ordered federal contractors to enforce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate as part of his plan to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The administration says the mandate will help protect the millions of employees who do work for the federal government.

However, North Dakota’s leaders say the mandate is an overreach by the feds.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced Friday, Oct. 29, that North Dakota was joining the Missouri-led lawsuit which asks a federal judge to declare the vaccine mandate unconstitutional and to exempt the 10 states from enforcing the requirement.

“As I have said before, I am pro-vaccination, but I am also pro-state’s rights and opposed to federal overreach,” Stenehjem said in a statement. “The vaccine mandate … is both contrary to federal law and unconstitutional.”

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Republican Gov. Doug Burgum acknowledged on Friday that COVID-19 vaccines are effective and “still our best tool for preserving hospital capacity and ensuring access to care,” but said the mandate was unlawful.

“As we said in September when the Biden administration rolled out its misguided plan, we stand opposed to blatant federal overreach, and we fully support Attorney General Stenehjem joining the challenge to this illegal vaccine mandate on federal contractors,” Burgum said in a statement.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors is one aspect of Biden’s plan to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans. Biden also ordered employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing among their staff and required vaccines for health care workers employed by hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

The lawsuit’s complaint against the federal contractor mandate, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on Friday, alleges the mandate is a “power grab.”

“And the mandate goes so far as to demand vaccination even from employees who work entirely within their own home. That is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise,” the complaint states.

The complaint alleges the contractor mandate harms the 10 named states by infringing on their sovereignty and by burdening them with additional costs, such as hiring a person to coordinate the implementation of the mandate.

The states say the mandate will harm their “economic well-being,” because employees “may be fired, retire, or quit their jobs,” according to the complaint, which says employees of federal contractors make up a fifth of the U.S. workforce.

However, the Biden administration says the mandate will actually bolster the economy by reducing employee absences and labor costs.

The states suing the Biden administration over this mandate are Missouri, Nebraska, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com.

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