Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt joined with six other states to challenge a Biden administration mandate requiring vaccines for federal contractors and federally contracted employees.
Schmidt announced the lawsuit Saturday morning, bringing to 19 the number of states that are challenging the vaccine mandate for federal contractors – separate from another proposal requiring vaccines for workers in the private sector.
“No Americans should be threatened by their federal government with losing their jobs because their health care decisions differ from those preferred by the president of the United States,” Schmidt said in a statement.
“Nothing in the U.S. Constitution authorizes this sort of unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into the personal health care decisions of millions of American workers, and in our view the president certainly does not possess power to decree it on his own,” he said.
The lawsuit was filed Friday along with Alabama, West Virginia, Utah, Idaho, Georgia and South Carolina. The case was filed in federal court in Augusta, Georgia.
The Kansas lawsuit was part of a wave of litigation that was filed Friday when 11 states, including Missouri, went to court to challenge the federal contractor mandate.
A 12th state, Florida, filed its lawsuit on Thursday.
The lawsuit notes that Kansas has multiple contracts with various federal agencies that would force hundreds of employees to be vaccinated.
“Imposing the contractor mandate against Kansas will result in significant and irreparable harm to Kansas,” the suit states.
Three of the biggest state universities – the University of Kansas, Wichita State University and Kansas State University – are now requiring their employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 to comply with the federal mandate.
It has been estimated the state could lose more than $1 billlion in federal research contracts if it didn’t impose the vaccine mandate.
It was possible that the mandate could still apply to the state’s regional univerisities as well community and technical colleges if the U.S. Department of Education determined that federal financial aid was a contract.
“For state agencies that work on federal contracts, this situation is untenable,” the lawsuit says.
“This mandate puts billions of contracting dollars in peril, including huge portions of some state agencies’ budgets.
“Some agencies have received notice of their need to comply with this mandate – or lose all their funding – within the past few days, leaving compliance all but impossible.”
The lawsuit says the mandate forces contractors to choose between taking enforcement action that could include firing employees or losing billions of dollars in federal funding.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s office declined comment on the lawsuit.
One lawsuit, spearheaded by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, argues that the vaccine mandate is unconstitutional, saying that the federal government is exercising far more power than what it’s been delegated by the constitution or Congress.
“The contractor vaccine mandate will have deleterious effects on economy and inefficiency by causing the large-scale resignations of unvaccinated employees of federal contractors,” the Missouri-led lawsuit says.
“These disruptive consequences will directly oppose both ‘economy” and ‘efficiency,’ the lawsuit states.
The Missouri lawsuit was joined by Nebraska, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in St. Louis.
Meanwhile, early Friday night, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a similar lawsuit challenging the vaccine mandate in federal court in Galveston.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis already filed a lawsuit Thursday against the mandate in federal court in Tampa.
“The federal government’s cowardice has led it to have federal contractors do their dirty work,” the Texas lawsuit says.
“Rather than impose a vaccine mandate directly, defendants are coercing federal contractors into demanding that the millions of Americans they employ get vaccinated or lose their jobs,” the lawsuit says.
Schmidt, a Republican candidate for governor, explained his concerns about the federal contractor mandate when discussing the issue with lawmakers Friday.
“We don’t think that works as a matter of law,” Schmidt said of the contractor requirement. “But I am quick to say it hasn’t been tested on these facts before.”
Schmidt was among 21 attorneys general who earlier this week sent a letter to the president asking him to halt the federal contractor mandate.
The attorneys general said the mandate was on “shaky legal ground.”
They said contractors are unable to “make sense of its many inconsistencies to require that their entire workforce be vaccinated on an unworkable timeline or face potential blacklisting by the federal government or loss of future federal contracts.
Lawmakers plan to reconvene in Topeka on Saturday for a second day of hearings about how to respond to the federal pandemic mandates although Friday’s meeting was marked by comparisons of vaccine mandates to the holocaust.
Among other issues, Republican lawmakers are trying to ascertain how much latitude they have to maneuver in passing legislation opposing federal mandates.
Senate President Ty Masterson, for one, was not ready to accept that federal law always supersedes a state law.
“It is striking me that obviously if you’re in favor of what the federal government has done, we kind of just jump to the supremacy clause,” Masterson said.
The “insinuation that the supremacy clause is the end all, that’s actually just one opinion of how it may or may not apply,” he said.
“We won’t actually know the answer to that until…the testing of the facts. We really don’t know the application until this has gone through litigation.”