Utah joins lawsuit opposing federal vaccine mandate and calls recent mandate a “serious mistake”


Patrick Jones


The State of Utah is joining six other states this week in a lawsuit against executive order 14042, which requires federal departments and agencies to mandate that all their federal contractors fully vaccinate their workforce against COVID-19. 

Utah announced their involvement in this lawsuit before the Nov. 4 announcement by the Biden administration requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to mandate the vaccine or start weekly testing and mandatory masking for those unvaccinated by Jan. 4. The announcement also includes a mandate on health care workers to get the vaccine by Jan. 4 without an option for weekly testing. 


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In mid-September, 24 states’ attorneys general (AGs) wrote a letter of opposition to Biden on executive order 14042 and called it “disastrous” and “counterproductive”. The letter says:

“From a policy perspective, this edict is unlikely to win hearts and minds — it will simply drive further skepticism. And at least some Americans will simply leave the job market instead of complying. This will further strain an already-too-tight labor market, burdening companies and (therefore) threatening the jobs of even those who have received the vaccine.”

This lawsuit — filed on Oct. 29 — includes the states of Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Utah. It says the order operates under an “unworkably short deadline” for federal contractors to require employees get vaccinated.

The lawsuit continues to say that forcing agencies to comply or lose their funding leaves compliance “impossible”.

“At its core, the mandate forces contractors to make an impossible choice: either (1) take enforcement action that may include termination of all unvaccinated employees, or (2) face losing billions of dollars in federal funding.”

A joint statement by Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, AG Sean D. Reyes, Senate President J. Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson, State Auditor John Dougall, and State Treasurer Marlo M. Oaks says:

“We must take a stand for hardworking Utahns who are being forced to either get the vaccine or lose their jobs. The president is making a habit out of reaching beyond the limits of his authority. In doing so, he is unnecessarily exacerbating stress on the supply chain, damaging the economy, forcing workers to leave jobs and hurting American families. We cannot stand idly by and allow President Biden and his administration to impose yet another reckless and illegal executive action.”

This statement was released just days before the recent Nov. 4 announcement on vaccine mandates for all companies with 100 employees or more. In response to this recent announcement, Cox and Henderson released a joint statement:

“The President’s vaccine mandate for businesses is a serious mistake. It’s outside the authority of the federal government and, as public health experts have pointed out, it is likely to exacerbate and broaden public resistance to all vaccines, which may outweigh any marginal benefit in terms of increased population immunity.

We continue to strongly encourage Utahns to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones, and to protect the hospital capacity that we all use. The vaccines are a miracle of science and represent the best way to end the pandemic, but a federal mandate is heavy-handed overreach that will harden vaccine resistance and polarization. Workplace vaccination and testing policies should remain firmly the prerogative of business owners. We’re committed to fighting the mandate through every possible avenue.”

According to a White House report, vaccination requirements are effective and helpful for the economy. Requirements have increased vaccination rates by more than 20% — to over 90% — across a wide range of businesses and organizations.