Fighting Vaccine Mandates, Ohio AG Dave Yost Says He Protected the “Rule of Law”

click to enlarge Dave Yost - Ohio Attorney General's Office, FlickrCC
Ohio Attorney General's Office, FlickrCC
Dave Yost

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost last week touted a successful effort he led among state attorneys general to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers.

In a statement, Yost said he wasn’t opposed to vaccines, he was upholding the rule of law. But his office declined to comment Monday when asked if he had similar concerns when it comes to the actions of his fellow Republicans.

“Our case was about the limits of power, not about the vaccine,” said Yost’s statement about the court’s 6-3 vote on the mask mandate. “Today, the President of the United States bowed to the rule of law, even if it was forced upon him. It will not be the last time.”

In the decision, the court’s conservative majority ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did not have the authority to require businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated against or regularly tested for the coronavirus as a matter of workplace safety.

The six justices said that it wasn’t the agency’s job “to regulate public health more broadly.”

The three liberal justices dissented, saying the conservatives were substituting their own judgment for that of Congress, which sets the mission of the safety and health administration.

In September, Yost said that in issuing the mandate, Biden was claiming “monarchical powers.” The president, however, said he was issuing it under a law passed by Congress — the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

It says, “The Congress finds that personal injuries and illnesses arising out of work situations impose a substantial burden upon, and are a hindrance to, interstate commerce in terms of lost production, wage loss, medical expenses, and disability compensation payments.” The law also empowers the secretary of labor power to set standards to protect workplace health and safety.

While Yost said it was a concern for the rule of law that prompted him to lead the litigation against the vax-or-test mandate, he’s more muted about the conduct of the leader of his party, former President Donald Trump.

A select congressional committee is investigating Trump’s involvement in schemes to overturn the 2020 election, which he lost by more than 7 million votes. The committee is said to be gathering evidence that the commander-in-chief sat idly by for hours as Congress was under a violent attack by his supporters even as aides and family members begged him to tell the rioters to go home.

Trump has since praised the rioters and in Texas on Saturday, he said he’d consider pardoning those who have been charged in connection with the insurrection.

“If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6th fairly,” the Associated Press reported Trump as saying. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”

Perhaps more ominously, Trump called for even bigger protests in jurisdictions where he’s being investigated if he decides that law enforcement has done “anything wrong or illegal.” That prompted Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to request extra security for her office and other government buildings in Atlanta.

Then on Sunday, Trump wrote that former Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the election — a claim that has been rejected by Pence, Trump’s attorney general and numerous courts.

Yost’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Trump’s words and actions honored the rule of law.

Nor did it comment on whether the conduct of his fellow Ohio Republicans complies with the rule of law. Ohioans have overwhelmingly voted to amend the state Constitution to prohibit extreme gerrymandering of  congressional and state legislative districts.

Even so, the Republican-dominated redistricting commission created by the initiatives drew legislative maps that were declared unconstitutional last month by the Republican-controlled Ohio Supreme Court. The majority opinion in the case criticized claims by commission Republicans that parts of the state Constitution were only “aspirational.”

Critics last week said a new set of maps approved along partisan lines is also unconstitutional.

Originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal. Republished here with permission.
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