COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said the state will fight the Biden Administration’s private employer vaccine mandate.
“This is garbage and it’s unconstitutional so we will be fighting it. OSHA does not have the authority for this kind of mandate,” Wilson said about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule that would require approximately 84 million U.S. workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or get tested for the virus weekly.
The rule applies to companies with more than 100 employees as well as workers at health care facilities that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients. OSHA says companies that fail to comply could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.
“Vaccinations for every employee have nothing to do with OSHA’s regulation of workplace safety,” Wilson said. “The President is flouting the rule of law to engage in federal overreach at its worst. He has little regard for the constitutional liberties of our citizens.”
Wilson refuted a statement President Joe Biden made in September about such a mandate not being about freedom or personal choice but about “protecting yourself and those around you.”
“This is about freedom and personal choice, Mr. President,” Wilson said. “Private companies have the freedom to require their employers to get vaccinated, just like they have the freedom to require a dress code, but a federal agency does not have the authority to impose that mandate on private employers.”
Wilson said numerous business owners in the state told him the mandate would “crush” their businesses.
“As I’ve said before, this is not about whether vaccines are a good idea, this is about following the rule of law and not allowing a federal bureaucracy to abuse power and flout the law,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday, Gov. Henry McMaster said he would release an executive order banning state agencies from issuing or enforcing a vaccine mandate. He also said the state co-filed a lawsuit led by Georgia against the OSHA rule and that six other states had so far joined in the suit.
“We have been stunned at the overreach of the Biden Administration,” McMaster said. “Stunned is the word. I have never seen a president go out of bounds as much, out of bounds of the law, as this one.”
The governor said on Twitter the mandates “are forcing South Carolinians to choose between a vaccine and their jobs.”
Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.