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Idaho Republican officials plan lawsuit over vaccine mandate

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announces Stage 3 of his reopening plan May 28 at the Statehouse in Boise.  (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman)
By Keith Ridler Associated Press

BOISE – Idaho Republican officials are warning President Joe Biden of legal action if his proposed coronavirus vaccine requirement for about 100 million Americans goes into effect.

Gov. Brad Little, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate Pro Tempore Chuck Winder in a letter Friday say there appears to be no legal basis for the requirement.

“If you choose to continue to move forward in this direction, the State of Idaho will have no choice but to take the necessary legal actions to uphold its sovereignty, check the overreach of power by federal bureaucracy, and uphold the system of checks and balances our Constitution guarantees,” they wrote in the letter to Biden.

Many Idaho Republican lawmakers are angry with the vaccine mandate announced last week. It requires employers with more than 100 workers to require the workers to be vaccinated or be tested for the virus weekly.

The action Friday follows a warning Thursday to Biden from 24 Republican attorneys general of impending legal action over the vaccine mandate.

The Idaho letter comes a day after the full state entered crisis standards of care because of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filling hospitals. The standards allow health care providers to give scarce resources, like ventilators, to the patients most likely to survive.

It also comes as Republicans jockey for position ahead of the Republican primary early next year, with far-right candidates and lawmakers calling for the House and Senate to reconvene to outlaw vaccine mandates.

The letter Friday cites three main reasons for opposing the vaccine mandate. It says the power to enforce vaccine policies belongs to states, not the federal government.

It also says the U.S. Department of Labor doesn’t have the authority to issue the mandate.

Finally, the letter says state leaders are in the best position to determine appropriate responses.

“One size fits all federal solutions are unproductive and do not appropriately balance the specific interests and needs of states or the businesses operating within our states,” the letter states.

On Thursday, attorneys general from 24 states sent a letter to Biden threatening legal action over the vaccine mandate. They are from South Carolina, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.