Can President Biden legally require vaccines? Gov. Little explores legal action.

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Posted at 4:17 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 09:13:51-04

President Joe Biden announced a new vaccine mandate that could affect tens of millions of people in the private sector.

Now, in addition to all federal workers, staff at private companies with more than 100 employees will have to get vaccinated or get tested weekly.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has called the move “unprecedented government overreach.”

About 50% of Idaho's population ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated, leaving about 750,000 Idahoans without the shot, but with the president’s new plan requiring vaccinations — will Idaho's vaccine rate increase, or will Little put a stop to his COVID-19 plan in Idaho?

“You can always file a lawsuit. Whether it will be successful or not is a whole other question,” University of Idaho College of Law professor Shaakirrah Sanders said.

Republican governors across the country are announcing plans to potentially take legal action against President Joe Biden's vaccine requirement — claiming it's an unconstitutional attack on personal freedom.

Gov. Little is also exploring legal action, but it's unclear whether he will file a lawsuit alone or with other GOP governors.

“I think if Idaho has brought an individual lawsuit, it could have a lot of problems given the COVID numbers in our state which has caused a health crisis,” Sanders said. “It very well could be that Gov. Little has challenges of his own to deal with if he brings this lawsuit. It could really open the door to information about decision making on this topic,” Sanders said.

Statehouse Protest July 15
Protesters gathered at the Statehouse Thursday, as Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and some legislators are pushing for the state to ban employee vaccine mandates. It’s unclear whether lawmakers will convene to take up the issue.

In a press release, Little stated,“ I have been consistent that government should stay out of decisions involving employers and their employees as much as possible.” He goes on to say, “It is wrong for President Biden to dismiss the concerns of millions of Americans.”

Biden’s requirement loops in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), making it a public health and safety concern and it could provide a basis for the president if challenged in court.

“OSHA could be one of those pieces of federal law that the president could point to. It will really depend on the requirements of that statute and what power it gives to the president and his agencies,” Sanders said. “Legally, these are unprecedented times. There are really no cases out there to draw on from the past about the legality of actions during a pandemic.”