Texas AG Ken Paxton files motion and lawsuit against federal vaccine mandates

by Vianca Rodriguez

The Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday filed both a motion to protect federal contractors and subcontractors, as well as a lawsuit to protect healthcare workers from the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.

The motion allows for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to take place immediately while a trial is fulfilled. Specifically, the motion addresses only Joe Biden in his official Presidential capacity as the defendant, whereas the lawsuit lists Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra, other health department officials, and Joe Biden as multiple defendants.

Throughout the motion, the plaintiffs argue that the state of Texas stands to loose over $7.32 billion in federal contracting money within one fiscal year if Biden’s vaccine mandate were to take place. “Accordingly, Defendants’ coercive tactics may leave many contractors with no ability to appeal to the judiciary to protect their rights,” the motion stated.

In addition, the plaintiffs state that employers mandating vaccines, specifically contractors, would have “detrimental effects” on the employees affected and the state overall by forcing many people into unemployment, therefore placing them into serious financial hardships for an unprecedented amount of time.

“These rules and their outcomes are nonsensical. There is no efficiency gained by Defendants’ one-size-fits-all, overbearing, and coercive approach to the multi-faceted and difficult question of how to fight COVID-19 and preserve individual liberty,” the motion stated.

On the other hand, the lawsuit seeks to uphold individual liberties of healthcare workers and preserve their jobs as workforce/healthcare staffing shortages continue to persist. Within this lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that Texas is a sovereign state that should hold the right to dictate rules and laws in the name of health without the expansive overreach of the federal government, dependent on “local factors and conditions.”

Texas particularly is experiencing a healthcare worker shortage that only became exasperated during the pandemic. According to the lawsuit, there is a “shortage of physicians in Texas and this shortage will increase through 2032.”

AG Paxton shared the suit on social media challenging Biden, stating that “At a time when we need healthcare workers more than ever before, amid a harrowing worker shorter, the Biden Administration has prioritized this unlawful vaccine mandate over the healthcare of all Americans. Once again Biden, I’ll see you in court! #VaccineMandates”

Among the arguments presented in the lawsuit, or claims for relief, include 11 counts on the basis of:

  • Violation of statutory limits on agency power;
  • Failure to provide notice and comment in violation of the APA;
  • Failure to provide notice and comment in violation of the Social Security Act;
  • Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1395z – Failure to Consult;
  • Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1302 – Regulatory Impact Analysis;
  • Arbitrary and Capricious Agency Action;
  • Unconstitutional Exercise of Spending Power;
  • Violation of Anti-Commandeering Doctrine;
  • Violation of the Tenth Amendment;
  • Violation of the U.S. Constitution, Art. I, § 1 Unconstitutional Delegation of Legislative Power;
  • Prayer for Relief

These legal proceedings come as AG Paxton files in conjunction with 18 other states also suing the Biden administration over vaccine mandates.

Early in October, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from mandating vaccines within the state, but most have ignored such order due to lack of viable enforcement mechanisms. It is hoped that the recent motions and lawsuits, especially the Federal Court of Appeals’ temporary halt to Biden’s vaccine mandate, will reap legal and constitutional benefits.

All in all, both the motion and the lawsuit present an opportunity to challenge the police power clause and perhaps even confirm whether policing power remains a sovereign state right, or if the federal government should have a right to override states’ contrary public health policies. This would set a historical precedent to further solidify the lines that have been blurred insofar regarding federal versus state jurisdiction.

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