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Utah Attorney General Reyes says Biden’s proposed COVID vaccine mandate would be ‘unconstitutional’

Two dozen states attorneys general threatened the White House with litigation in a letter.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks with delegates attending the Utah Republican Party’s 2021 Organizing Convention at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, May 1, 2021, as they return to an in-person format after the pandemic forced the nominating convention to go online last year.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has threatened to take legal action against the White House if President Joe Biden goes through with a proposed coronavirus vaccine mandate for millions of American workers.

Reyes, along with 23 other states attorneys general, sent a letter to the president on Thursday that accused Biden of overreaching his executive power if he requires businesses with 100 or more employees to implement a COVID-19 vaccine requirement or begin weekly testing of workers who refuse.

Biden announced earlier this month that he had ordered his administration to draft a vaccine mandate for all federal employees and private businesses with 100 or more employees. According to the White House, the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration would create and enforce the new rule, which would affect upward of 80 million American workers.

“Mr. President, your vaccination mandate represents not only a threat to individual liberty, but a public health disaster that will displace vulnerable workers and exacerbate a nationwide hospital staffing crisis, with severe consequences for all Americans,” the letter to the White House reads.

The signers of the 7-page letter say the proposed vaccine mandate was unconstitutional and would ultimately lead to American workers, including “essential health care workers,” quitting or losing their jobs during the ongoing pandemic.

“Both employers and employees in Utah, with unprecedented fervor, have flooded my office with messages of dire concern and extreme opposition to the proposed mandate,” Reyes said in a statement. “I firmly agree.”

The attorneys general wrote that “vaccines have helped protect millions of Americans, and there are surely others who could benefit from obtaining this treatment,” but that a “one-size-fits-all policy,” like a national vaccine mandate, was “not reasoned decision-making.”

Utah Attorney General’s office communications director Richard Piatt told The Tribune that it was important Utah join the potential litigation against the Biden administration because the proposed vaccine mandate “would affect thousands of Utah workers.”

“Attorney General Reyes and the other [attorneys general] say that, as described by the President, the rule would be unconstitutional,” Piatt said. “[Attorney General] Reyes will take any legal action to protect the rights of the citizens of Utah.”

On Wednesday, a crowd of protesters — most without protective face masks — swarmed a Utah legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee hearing and encouraged lawmakers to take a stand against the proposed vaccine mandate, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“If your Administration does not alter course, the undersigned state attorneys general will seek every available legal option to hold you accountable and uphold the rule of law,” the letter concludes.

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