Ohio Attorney General Yost, Six Other State Attorneys General Challenge Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency COVID Regulations


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and six other state attorneys general have challenged the Biden administration’s authority to impose COVID-19 regulations through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency regulations power in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.

Yost joined Republican colleagues in Kentucky, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia on November 5 in asking the court to rule against the OSHA regulations requiring those working for businesses with 100 or more employees to either get vaccinnated or wear masks indoors at their workplaces and get tested once every seven days.

OSHA announced the “emergency temporary standard” regulations just as Yost and the attorneys general of Kentucky and Tennessee filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s authority to force vaccinations on the workers of federal contractors.

The legal argument in the OSHA lawsuit rests in part on whether the agency has the statutory authority to require large businesses to track the vaccination status of its employees while requiring those who are unvaccinated to wear masks indoors and to get tested every seven days.

“A nationwide vaccine mandate that has nothing to do with workplace risk is a dangerous and unlawful use of executive power,” Yost said of the OSHA litigation in a news release. “Congress has not given the president the power to make personal health-care decisions for all Americans who just so happen to work at a company with at least 100 employees.”

The coalition of attorneys general also raise constitutional issues regarding the separation of powers between the federal government and the states in response to the pandemic.

“Each Petitioner State has enacted its own laws and policies – or declined to issue certain mandates – in a way that balances the need for public health with the rights of its citizens,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit contends the COVID-19 virus does not qualify as a uniquely workplace hazard such as a toxic substance OSHA can regulate as an emergency.

“The Emergency Provision empowers the Secretary (of Labor) to issue emergency standards only if he learns that ’employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards,'” the lawsuits says, citing the section of statue Congress enacted. “Properly understood, this provision allows the Secretary to issue emergency temporary standards pertaining to workplace dangers; it does not extend to risks typical of workplaces and non-workplaces alike.”

The lawsuit asks the Sixth Circuit to rule on the request for a stay on the regulations pending litigation no later than November 12 to allow plaintiffs an opportunity to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court should the circuit court deny the enforcement delay.

The lawsuit says the request to delay the regulations effective dates follows the lack of urgency the Biden adminstration has placed on the regulations. While the president gave notice of the pending regulations in September, it took OSHA two months to draft the regulations.

“The ’emergency’ standard, for its part, will not even go into effect until next year,” the lawsuit reads. “Given the the immediate important issues the case presents, and given the likelihood that the States will prevail on the merits, maintaing the status quo a bit longer is amply justified.”

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Brian R. Ball is a veteran Columbus journalist writing for The Ohio Star and Star News Network. Send him news tips to [email protected]
Photo “Dave Yost” by Dave Yost Attorney General.




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