The Biden administration announced a Jan. 4 deadline for its employer vaccine mandate. That means some 84 million employees and 17 million health care workers have two months to become fully vaccinated. Officials say the federal mandate preempts any state or local laws. OSHA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will implement the rules. Violations could include fines of up to nearly $14,000 for each infraction, with an increased fine if the violation is found to be “willful.”
Several Republican governors and attorneys general have vowed to fight the new rule in court. And 19 states are suing the Biden administration over the mandates. Texas sued individually in a federal court in Galveston. Another lawsuit, filed in a federal district court in Missouri, involves Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. And another lawsuit, filed in a federal district court in Georgia, involves Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia.
And what about religious exemption? We sat down with Jay Richards, William E. Simon senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, to hear his thoughts. Richards said, “I do think there’s very strong legal precedent for religious exemption protection. It’s just that the courts are very—it’s a slow mechanism. And if the Supreme Court doesn’t want to sort of preempt that process, then it could be a year or two years. And so the sort of on-the-ground effects, they’re going to be what they are, even if ultimately there is legal relief.”
Tune into Deep Dive as we explore these topics and more.