Tennessee Attorney General Challenges Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Photo Credit: tn.gov & Public Domain 

By Jon Styf [The Center Square contributor] and The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Thursday, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said he believes the president’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate on private employers violates federal law.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Biden issued an extensive executive order last week that included making businesses with 100 or more employees require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would enforce the mandate.

Slatery wrote public statements from the Biden administration “indicate an unprecedented assertion of emergency regulatory powers by a federal agency.”

Slatery cited previous communication from the OSHA, stating masks at workplaces were a sufficient measure to combat the disease. His letter also said COVID-19 was not a “grave danger” at employers throughout the state.

“I do not want to make assumptions about the contours of the proposed [emergency temporary standard], but, at a minimum, the vaccinate-or-test proposal will implicate religious liberty, free speech, and bodily autonomy concerns,” Slatery wrote. “We have already heard from Tennesseans expressing serious concerns about infringement of their constitutional rights. I encourage The White House and OSHA to keep those constitutional rights in mind when drafting the ETS’ Robust accommodation provisions might alleviate some of those concerns.”

The letter raises the following specific concerns about the proposed mandate: 

  • Requires vaccination or testing regardless of the risk of COVID-19 exposure at any given job site and disregards what an employer and employees have done to reduce the risk. 
  • Contradicts recent and repeated communication from The White House and OSHA that masking and other measures are sufficient. 
  • Ignores that COVID-19 is not a hazard specific to the workplace. 
  • Could violate the principle that Congress may not delegate its legislative authority to a federal agency.  
  • Undermines the federalist structure of our government which gives States—not the federal government—primary responsibility to protect the health and safety of citizens. 
  • Fails to consider religious liberty, free speech, and bodily autonomy concerns. 

Many Tennessee Republican leaders and business leaders have spoken out against the mandate.

“President Biden’s executive order is pure federal overreach,” Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally tweeted Thursday regarding Slatery’s letter. “As a pharmacist, I understand the vaccine is our best weapon against COVID. But the order is unconstitutional and economic warfare against workers and employers. Grateful to [Slatery] for this proactive challenge.”

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The National Federation for Independent Business sent a letter earlier this week to U.S. Labor Secretary Matt Walsh regarding the vaccine requirements. NFIB asked for the normal OSHA rule-making process to be followed by having the rule posted and then holding a public comment period on the proposed rule.

“The Biden Administration in essence threatens America’s small and independent business owners with large fines, and even imprisonment for up to six months, unless the business gets its employees vaccinated, tested, or fired,” NFIB’s letter said. “If the Administration wants to command 80 million Americans, who do not wish to get vaccinated, to get vaccinated or tested weekly, the President should ask Congress to enact legislation issuing that command. Then the American people could hold the President, Senators, and Representatives accountable at the ballot box for how they voted on such legislation. That is the democratic way.”

Slatery encouraged Tennesseans to get vaccinated in a news release about his letter to Biden.

“I would encourage everyone eligible, in consultation with a doctor, to get a COVID vaccination. It is one effective way out of this pandemic,” Slatery said. “However, this vaccine-or-test mandate appears to be an unprecedented expansion of federal power and fails to consider the steps individuals, employers, and our state have already made.”

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About the Author: Jon Styf, The Center Square Staff Reporter – Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.

One thought on “Tennessee Attorney General Challenges Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

  • September 17, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    The governor and Senate and house should be exploring therapeutics. Ivermectin studies in Covid are very successful in other countries. The therapeutics will help keep people out of the hospital. I have 20 family or friends that have recently gotten Covid and 1/2 where vaccinated out of the 20 none had been hospitalized in either group. But 4 out of the 10 vaccinated where hit harder then the non vaxed! I feel more therapeutics as soon as you get covid will keep people out of ICU. The fact your sent home and told to wait till it’s too bad goes against all medical standards. Let’s stop the lie and get these therapeutics! Mr Lee lead instead of always following the other great governors! Thank you for time


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