INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana will challenge the Biden administration’s latest workplace vaccine mandates in three separate lawsuits in the coming week, the state’s attorney general announced Thursday.
Attorney General Todd Rokita said Indiana plans to file its first lawsuit Thursday afternoon, challenging the mandate requiring federal contractors to be vaccinated.
A separate lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate — which will require Americans who work at companies with 100 or more employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, or get tested for the virus weekly — is expected to be filed Friday, Rokita continued.
The state will also file a third lawsuit next week, pushing back against a vaccine mandate for those who work in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid.
Rokita said Indiana will file the OSHA lawsuit independently in the 7th Judicial Circuit, but noted that the state will likely join others, including Louisiana and Mississippi, in the other legal actions.
“This is a direct attack on states’ rights. This is a direct attack on individual liberty and freedom. And it’s a complete overreach of the federal government,” Rokita said during a news conference Thursday.
“It’s egregious and insidious that we use something in a law that was meant to protect workers at the workplace — from dangerous toxicities and from other directly unsafe situations — to use it in this fashion to cover something that is a much bigger part of our lives.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday directed the Indiana Department of Labor and the state attorney general’s office to work together on a lawsuit challenging the mandate.
In a statement, Holcomb described the mandate as an “overreach of the government’s role in serving and protecting Hoosiers.” The Republican governor added that he supports use of the vaccine but believes the “unprecedented” federal approach would have unintended consequences on workers and the supply chain.
Here’s the governor’s full statement:
I direct the Indiana Department of Labor to work with the Attorney General on a lawsuit challenging the federal government regarding the OSHA ETS. This is an overreach of the government’s role in serving and protecting Hoosiers. While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this federal government approach is unprecedented and will bring about harmful, unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce.
Indiana’s Congressional members also weighed in on the decision to fight the vaccine mandate.
Representative André Carson was one of the few for the mandate, putting out the statement below over twitter.
“I don’t think the marginal benefit is going to be worth the carnage to the economy and to some of the decisions people are going to be forced to make that they may regret later,” said Republican Senator Mike Braun. “I’m just not for federal mandates on anything in this fashion.”
Senator Braun said he has already been hearing from business owners who are anxious about the repercussions of this mandate.
“Many of them fear this could be the toughest navigation through the whole challenge with COVID,” said Sen. Braun. “They’re worried that they could lose, in one full swoop, a large percentage of their workforce.”
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth said it is crucial for Americans to feel as though their healthcare choices are their own and they can decide what is in their best interest. He said President Biden has made this decision unilaterally.
“It’s not going through a congressional process where the representatives of the people vote on that. It’s being decided by the president through a bureaucrat in Washington,” said Rep. Hollingsworth.
Congressman Larry Bucshon also believes OSHA’s new vaccine mandate could be ruled unconstitutional.
“Because it’s mandating a medical procedure and that decision needs to be between an individual and their physician,” said Congressman Bucshon. “I mean I understand why the administration wants to encourage people to get vaccines, but the reality is this is going to do just the opposite. In fact, people are willing to quit their jobs because of this mandate.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report