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Ga. universities mandate COVID shots even as state sues feds

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 7:06 AM CDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Some Georgia universities are mandating vaccinations for federal contract employees, even as Georgia state government sues President Joe Biden’s administration to block the requirement.

The share of workers covered is likely highest at Augusta University, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University and Georgia Tech. Some schools may not be affected at all.

“Augusta University will notify all employees who fall into these categories for which a vaccine is required once our review is complete,” AU spokeswoman Heather Henley told The Associated Press.

Henley told AP that AU has more than 200 contracts. She said the school “is actively working through the details of implementing the guidelines.”

It’s unclear how many employees and student workers the federal rules will cover in Georgia.

The University System of Georgia had previously said its 26 schools couldn’t require COVID-19 vaccines or masks.

But the federal rules extend the vaccine requirement to other employees working alongside those connected to federal contracts. The federal rules also require masking and social distancing.

The mandate takes effect Dec. 8, but people will need to start getting their first shot soon so they can meet the deadline for the second one.

The mandate is being fought by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and some of his peers. His office said Friday he’d file a complaint in Augusta federal court against President Joe Biden and many federal agencies within the administration.

He’s joined in the lawsuit by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, as well as leaders from Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Utah and West Virginia.

The complaint, in part, explains how the Biden administration’s “unprecedented, unlawful, and unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccination mandate for federal contractors has placed Georgia’s state agencies and elected officials, including Governor Kemp, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and the University System of Georgia, in an untenable situation,” Kemp’s office said Friday in a news release.

“In addition to being an unlawful and unconstitutional overreach, this vaccine mandate on federal contractors will only further divide Americans and hamstring our economy,” said Kemp.

The plaintiffs allege Biden and the other federal defendants have acted unlawfully in ways that include:

  • Acting in excess of their authority under the Procurement Act.
  • Failing to conform with the rules for changing federal procurement policy.
  • Claiming powers that, under the U.S. Constitution, cannot be delegated to them.
  • Acting in violation of the separation of powers and the 10th Amendment.
  • Ignoring the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.
  • Violated the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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