Mississippians turn to lawsuits to challenge federal vaccines mandates

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippians are pushing back on the federal vaccine mandates.

Governor Tate Reeves’ statement Tuesday indicates Mississippi will soon join the growing list of states suing the Biden administration. But some people have already taken the legal plunge.

Mississippi State is one of the schools that told employees last week they’ll have to comply with the President’s vaccine mandate because the institution receives federal contracts. Now, five of their employees are suing the federal government, the IHL and MSU.

They’re saying the mandate is unconstitutional.

”This is adversely affecting my clients, because now they have to choose between taking a drug they don’t need or losing their jobs,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Matt Wilson.

The five men argue they’ve already had COVID, have natural immunity and don’t think it’s a proven vaccine. Wilson also filed an application for a temporary restraining order since time is running out before the deadline.

”Normally they have 60 days to respond. Well, I mean…in 60 days, it’ll be the first of the year, which will be well after the president’s self-imposed deadline,” noted Wilson. “So we’ve got to get to court well before that.”

State Senator Chris McDaniel says his office is collecting complaints about the mandates. He believes either legislation or a lawsuit needs to be filed.

”Instead of letting the small town Mississippians and hard working people pay for attorneys, why not pass the law and force that issue back up to these powers that are best able to litigate this issue?“ asked McDaniel. “Bottom line is there’s a dozen things we can do to protect workers. So far we’ve done nothing, and it’s time we act. I really believe that. Enough words. It’s time for action.”

Things are less clear when it comes to rules for private companies with 100+ employees. The White House website says rules are still being developed.

But it references that there’s expected to be a choice for those folks---vaccinate or test weekly.

Mississippi College law professor Matt Steffey says it’s important to note that distinction when looking at the potential legal standing for businesses or employees.

”Because the mandate is test, not an absolute strict requirement, get vaccinated or else… I think that’s going to be a challenging position to take in court,“ said Steffey.

Steffey says there will be the opportunity to file exemptions but there won’t be a one-sized-fits-all answer.

“Courts are going to struggle with this most broadly on a case-by-case basis,” said Steffey. “And it is far from resolved. I think all of these policies will have exemptions. All of those exemptions will be tested in court.”

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