Governor Tate Reeves is one of several governors who are challenging a new mandate from the president that will require some workers to get a coronavirus vaccination or test weekly. Legal experts say the case could challenge the emergency powers of the president.
A lawsuit has been filed by Governor Tate Reeves and several other GOP leaders from across the country to push back against new federal mandates. Last week, President Joe Biden announced all federal workers, as well as those contracted to work by the federal government, will be required to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Additionally, he announced the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, also known as OSHA, oversee vaccination mandates for companies that have more than 100 employees. Workers must be vaccinated, or receive weekly coronavirus tests. In an interview with Fox Business, Governor Tate Reeves says this is unconstitutional.
Reeves says "We don’t yet have the rule, so we don’t know exactly what the rule is going to say. All we know is that this is one person trying to place an edict on all Americans without it going through the legislative branch, without it going through the representative democracy that America was founded upon. This is an unconstitutional act by a president that makes no sense.”
Reeves continued, comparing the rule to tyrannical governments of the past.
“Every single time tyrants have tried to place an emphasis on their individuals in their country, they’ve always said “Oh, we’re doing it because it’s in the best interest of our citizens.” The fact is we have a representative democracy in [The United States], and if the president wants to do this, then he should get the elected representatives to vote on it," says Reeves.
Matthew Steffey, Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law, says the federal government has the authority to mandate vaccinations. However, he says that typically is done through the power of congress, whereas in this case the president is doing it as an emergency procedure.
Steffey says “The emergency has to be defined, there has to be established reasoning. The agency has to consider alternatives, and so on. And that’s the piece, how exactly can OSHA go about doing this, that will be subject to legal challenge.”
And Steffey says it may not be the role of state government to litigate against this mandate.
“Because we have to separate the politics of it out. Governor Reeves adds his voice to, what, three or four or five or six governors who have already shot videos, held news conferences, made statements, talking about their intention to challenge this. But this policy wouldn’t apply to state government, at least I wouldn’t expect that it particularly would. So I don’t know exactly how state government is involved with this,” says Steffey. “I understand the desire to get involved politically, but one might think that employees subject to the vaccine requirement, or employers subject to the vaccine requirement, would be the most obviously involved people to bring a lawsuit.”
Mississippi currently has one of the lowest coroanvirus vaccination rates in the nation.