Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday his plan to legally challenge and invalidate the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.
DeSantis said that Florida would join states such as Alabama and Georgia in the lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The case is expected to be filed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I think this is so far beyond what we’ve ever seen before that, I think we have a very, very high chance of success,” DeSantis said of the forthcoming lawsuit.
OSHA gave employers exceeding 100 employees a January 4th deadline to comply with the vaccine mandate and threatened $14,000 per violation for defiant businesses.
DeSantis suggested the creation of a defense fund to assist those businesses that refuse to comply with OSHA and are subsequently fined.
“People should be able to make these decisions,” said the Governor. “I don’t think people want this decision yanked away from them, I don’t think they want to allow a precedent where the federal government can come in and just force you to do what it wants you to do.”
Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried was quick to denounce the move. She posted on Twitter: “We are in this position due to a failure of leadership from Governor DeSantis who has been providing a platform for conspiracy theorists and extremism by denying the efficacy of vaccines and science-based public health policies.”
Democrat lawmakers also weighed in against the measure.
“The Governor is playing presidential primary politics by putting Floridians at risk,” said Democrat State Representative Andrew Learned. “This isn’t about vaccines or vaccine mandates, it’s about the cornerstone of workplace safety, like hard hats on a construction site. By joining this unnecessary lawsuit, the governor is wasting the state’s time & money and continuing to risk the safety of Floridians.”
DeSantis continued to allude to the furthering of federal oversight and proliferating restrictions in the name of emergency protocol.
“As far-reaching as this is, this is only the beginning for what they’re contemplating doing going forward,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also questioned the efficacy of the federal government’s regulation and fining of businesses that fail to comply with the vaccine orders.
Citing that viral spread is at a low point during the pandemic and that Florida has seen a 70-day decline in hospitalizations, DeSantis continued to champion the notion of individual choice. “I am vaccinated, my wife is vaccinated, my children are vaccinated. That was a family decision. It was not taken lightly. Our kids had their own concerns, but we eventually got there. But I think that’s up to families and individuals.”
Attorney General Ashley Moody delivered a concurrent press conference in Tampa Bay, which echoed DeSantis’ sentiments.
“In the history of our nation, this is unprecedented, breathtaking, and authoritarian. We must take this action to protect Florida.”
DeSantis has received partisan support from House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson in a joint statement posted to Twitter.
“We commend Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Moody for defending the rights of Florida workers and business owners by bringing an immediate challenge against this unconstitutional overreach by the Biden administration.”