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SC attorney general pushes back against president’s vaccine mandate

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S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has joined an effort warning President Joe Biden that the implementation of a proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate, or required testing, on private sector employees could lead to litigation. 

Wilson joined 23 other attorneys general, who sent a letter to Biden, Wilson’s office said in a news release. 

The coalition of AGs shared in the letter their legal and policy concerns with the mandate, which is expected to be carried out through an Occupational Safety and Health Act emergency temporary standard. 

“Regardless of how you feel about vaccines, President Biden’s edict is illegal, and if the administration doesn’t change course, we’ll pursue every legal option to strike it down,” Wilson said in a statement. 

Wilson, who is fully vaccinated, has encouraged others to get vaccinated as well, but said Biden’s mandate is not a personal opinion, but a question of law. He also believes the mandate will backfire and cause fewer people to get vaccinated, citing New York as an example, “where health care workers quit because of New York’s vaccine mandate,” the release said. 

Biden’s COVID-19 Plan, announced in July, called on private sectors to do more to encourage vaccinations. On Sept. 9, he further imposed a rule requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, or regular testing, for all employees of large companies of 100 or more. The mandate could apply to nearly 100 million Americans.  

Since Biden spoke out, cities in all 50 states have begun requiring vaccines to help end the pandemic, the White House said.  

While the efforts have resulted in 175 million American vaccinations, there are still roughly 80 million individuals who are eligible to be vaccinated but have not begun the process, the White House said.  

“The President’s plan will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements — these requirements will become dominant in the workplace,” the White House said in a statement. “In addition, the plan will provide paid time off for vaccination for most workers in the country.” 

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster spoke out against the mandate on Twitter, writing, “The American Dream has turned into a nightmare under President Biden and the radical Democrats. They have declared war against capitalism, thumbed their noses at the Constitution, and empowered our enemies abroad.” 

Beyond legal arguments, Wilson and the 23 other Attorneys General shared further concerns about policy considerations for this kind of national, widespread order.  

“Additionally, this mandate ignores the tens of millions of Americans with natural immunity and will drive further skepticism of vaccines,” the release said.  

The attorneys general are asking Biden to consider alternatives, especially considering the nature of every business is different, and therefore so is the way in which the virus could be controlled or spread. For example, many companies currently have remote workers who are not in contact with one another.  

“The one-size-fits-almost-all approach you have decreed makes clear that you intend to use the OSHA statute as a pretext to impose an unprecedented, controversial public health measure on a nationwide basis that only incidentally concerns the workplace,” the letter said.  

South Carolina is joined on the letter by the attorneys general of 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. 

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

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