For The Record

Kemp sues over latest Biden vaccine mandate unveiled this week

By: - November 5, 2021 4:18 pm

Gov. Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp on Nov. 3, 2021. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr are suing the administration of President Joe Biden over vaccine mandates for the second time in a week, the governor’s office announced Friday.

Florida, Alabama and several large businesses joined the latest lawsuit, which was filed Friday in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta. It takes aim at Biden’s latest plan to require businesses with more than 100 employees to either mandate vaccines or masks and regular testing. As of 2018, more than 4.4 million Georgians worked in businesses with 100 or more employees according to data from the Census Bureau.

Under the plan, businesses have until Jan. 4 to ensure their workers are vaccinated, and businesses that do not comply could face fines of up to $14,000 per violation.

“In addition to vilifying Americans for their personal choices, Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates are unlawful and a recipe for economic disaster,” Kemp said in a statement. “With inflation skyrocketing, the supply chain screeching to a halt, and job creators across the country desperately searching for more workers, Biden is pouring gasoline on a fire. This federal government power-grab defies reason, and Attorney General Carr and I will not allow this administration to force hardworking Georgians to choose between their livelihoods and this vaccine.”

The administration argues the plan will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve the economy.

“Vaccination requirements have increased vaccination rates by more than 20 percentage points – to over 90 percent – across a wide range of businesses and organizations,” the White House said in a statement. “According to Wall Street analysts, vaccination requirements could result in as many as 5 million American workers going back to work, and a survey of prominent, independent economists found unanimous agreement that vaccination requirements will ‘promote a faster and stronger economic recovery.’”

Kemp and the other plaintiffs say the mandate exceeds the government’s authority, does not meet the standards for issuing an emergency temporary standard and conflicts with the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Last week, Kemp joined six other states in a lawsuit against the White House over a separate mandate for federal contractors and those who work alongside them, including at the state’s universities, which could stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts if employees do not participate.

Kemp has encouraged Georgians to speak with their doctors, pharmacists and faith leaders about getting a vaccine, but has said he believes government mandates will harm the economy and cause further political divisions.

As of Thursday, 50% of Georgians have been fully vaccinated, and 56% have gotten at least one dose, according to state health department data. Nationwide, more than 78% of Americans 12 and older have gotten at least one vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Ross Williams
Ross Williams

Before joining the Georgia Recorder, Ross Williams covered local and state government for the Marietta Daily Journal.Williams' reporting took him from City Hall to homeless camps, from the offices of business executives to the living rooms of grieving parents. His work earned recognition from the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors and the Georgia Press Association, including beat reporting, business writing and non-deadline reporting. A native of Cobb County, Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Atlanta's Oglethorpe University and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.

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