President Joe Biden’s sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandates are facing a slew of lawsuits from states and private employers. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is leading the charge against three of those mandates, already securing one favorable decision while awaiting action on the other two.
Landry joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss Biden’s mandates and the legal challenges he’s pursuing to halt their implementation.
“The president is actually contradicting the whole reason that we’re having these mandates,” Landry says. “To me, that becomes prima facie evidence of exactly why or what this administration’s up to. It’s not about health care. It’s not about fighting the Chinese virus. It’s about controlling you.”
In addition to vaccine mandates, Landry also discusses:
- U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s recent memo targeting parents who speak at school board meetings.
- Louisiana’s efforts to support law enforcement and counter the “defund the police” movement.
- JP Morgan Chase’s discrimination against gun manufacturers and Second Amendment supporters.
- Biden’s failure to halt an oil-and-gas lease sale in Louisiana, which could deliver $100 million to the state.
Listen to the full interview or read a lightly edited transcript below.
Rob Bluey: I want to start with one of the big fights that is of concern to a lot of Americans. That’s President Biden’s onerous COVID vaccine mandate. This requirement would make private employers with 100 or more employees require those workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing.
You have fought this in your state. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans recently granted a request to block the vaccine mandate on private employers, and you and the other state attorneys general are making sure that this administration is held accountable. Tell our listeners why you believe this mandate is unlawful.
Jeff Landry: Well, first of all, what I’d like to do in answering that question is really to try to help clear up the air because there’s so much confusion, so much anxiety, and some of the chaos is being created by the government, and I get these from people who call into our office each and every day.
The first thing I would say, Rob, is that you should imagine three buckets. Those three buckets represent three different mandates by the federal government.
The first bucket is this [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] bucket. Let’s not lose sight of the other two buckets, but the OSHA bucket is the bucket that was created when the president, in September, instructed OSHA to issue an emergency rule, to have companies that have over 100 employees to mandate the shot.
That’s had a tremendous amount of people, both employees and employers, very anxious and upset about trying to implement, because it causes a lot of the supply chain disruptions that are going on today.
That’s the bucket under which we filed suit, and we filed in the 5th Circuit, along with a number of other businesses and some other states. And the 5th Circuit granted and issued the stay that you spoke about. …
They did it like in 24 hours, and then there was a whole bunch of rhetoric that came out of the White House and OSHA about ignoring the courts, and then there was a lot of [legal] briefs that flew back and forth.
The 5th Circuit came back in a very smashing opinion. It’s a great read. Basically, put the White House in checkmate and said, “No, we’re in Article 3. This is the order we’ve issued, and OSHA cannot implement this rule right now.”
Then, OSHA finally came out and said, “No, we’re suspending the rule.”
So, if you fall into that bucket—because some people are in multiple buckets, that’s important to recognize—that has been stayed.
The second bucket is the federal contractors or contract workers or people or universities who apply for federal grants and then pay people underneath those grants. Louisiana, along with other states, filed suit here in Louisiana on Nov. 4 on that case.
That case is in front of a federal judge, and we’re asking him to enjoin that mandate as we speak. We haven’t heard from the judge yet, but we feel confident that we’ll hear from him shortly.
The third bucket is the [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] bucket. That bucket covers health care workers or anyone who receives Medicaid or Medicare funding, including like my office, which has a Medicaid fraud unit.
They want all my Medicaid detectives to have to take the shot. It was just supposed to protect you against the Chinese virus. So anyhow, we filed suit on Monday, Nov. 15, against that rule. The judge, late Wednesday evening, issued an expedited order to take up the TRO, or the restraining order, which would enjoin that mandate.
That case, there’s a bunch of other states that have filed similarly. A Missouri judge has the same case for the state of Missouri.
If you fall in one of those buckets, the good news is there’s litigation against the government in all three buckets. Unfortunately, today I can only report that one of the buckets has been turned over and that’s the OSHA one.
Bluey: Thank you for walking us through all three of those buckets. It is truly frightening to think that the Biden administration is taking this authoritarian action from Washington and imposing this on the freedom of the American people.
The 5th Circuit made this ruling. It had the initial ruling and then the three-judge panel later ruled, but now a judicial panel has consolidated all of the challenges in the 6th Circuit. So, I’m wondering if you can explain to our listeners, who might be confused about the status of this case, particularly as these compliance deadlines come up on Dec. 4 and then Jan. 4, what happens from here?
Landry: The Jan. 4 deadline, which is the OSHA deadline, is pretty much suspended. I mean, OSHA said it’s suspended. I think that deadline has been blown out the way. I don’t think they could, even if the court agreed with OSHA, they’d go back to the Jan. 4 deadline.
You’re right, there’s a lot of confusion, again. So, here’s what happens. When OSHA promulgates or drafts a rule under their emergency powers, the challenge to that rule is made at the appellate level and not at the district court level. So, the statute goes further and says that if multiple challenges are made against the new rule, and those challenges are in different circuits. Then, after a 10-day period from the filing of the first challenge, a lottery is conducted. Based upon that lottery, the court that will hear the entire matter.
They drew a lottery and the 6th Circuit got the case. Now look, I think it’s great. I mean, I’m partial to the 5th because I’m in the 5th. I think we have great judges … super-fantastic judges in the 5th. But I think there are great judges in the 6th. It’s led by an outstanding chief. And so, we’re comfortable litigating it there.
Bluey: As you said, perhaps this Jan. 4 deadline doesn’t need to concern Americans as much, but you spoke about the multiple challenges that you are pursuing against the Biden administration and what they’re trying to do. Can you speak to our listeners about the consequences if the administration is allowed to move forward? What is really at stake here for the American people?
Landry: You know what’s amazing to me? Let’s just take the CMS bucket, this health care bucket. … When this whole pandemic started, when the Chinese virus came over to our shores and infected Americans, it was all about, we had to flatten the curve so that we created more health care capacity, right?
All of the edicts and mandates and shutting down of businesses and keeping people in their houses, all of that was to ensure that when you went to the hospital, there was adequate capacity in the hospital to take you, right?
This mandate with health care workers does the opposite. It frustrates that process. All it does is say that they predict 30% to 40% of the health care workers are going to get out the system. Well, how does that help our capacity?
The president is actually contradicting the whole reason that we’re having these mandates. To me, that becomes prima facie evidence of exactly why or what this administration’s up to. It’s not about health care. It’s not about fighting the Chinese virus. It’s about controlling you.
Bluey: Let’s shift to another topic. What do you make of the revelations that the Department of Justice was working with the FBI to target parents who were critical of their school boards?
Landry: You know, when I first saw the headline … I thought it was coming out of The Onion, right? Or one of those satire websites. Because I was like, this is America. It was something that you would see from the KGB back in the Cold War days.
What we’ve seen since then has been even more troubling, in the fact that we have now weaponized the Department of Justice against parents. I mean, for Pete’s sake, this is all about the kids.
Our school boards are at the local level. Why? Because we’ve recognized in this country that when government is closest to the people, it governs best. The education of our kids is so important that we make that government close to them, so that parents have an opportunity, a direct seat at the table, to be able to elect their school board members.
Why? Because they can hold them accountable a lot easier than they can hold Congress accountable. If we could hold Congress as accountable as school boards, we might fix the country, but we can’t.
But again, to think that the Department of Justice has gone directly after these parents is completely troubling.
Bluey: How has Louisiana acted to protect the rights of parents to still be vocal critics of their schools and make sure that, as you said, they’re held accountable?
Landry: Well, we sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland a pretty terse letter, telling him that this is not his sandbox and we better not catch him in it.
Then, No. 2, the next thing that we did was basically put out guidance for parents. We ensured that they understood what the Open Meetings Law says in the state of Louisiana, because we believe that. We let the school board members know about the Open Meetings Law, again, and we wanted to make sure that everybody had an opportunity to be heard and to air out their particular grievances. Because again, for Pete’s sake, that’s the way democracy’s supposed to work.
Bluey: And it’s worth noting that the Louisiana School Boards Association dropped out of the National School Boards Association, which is the group that appears to have influenced the White House and Department of Justice to take this step in the first place.
Bluey: Let’s shift topics. I want to ask you about an issue that I know is on the minds of a lot of Americans, particularly as we see crime increasing throughout our country.
A number of Democrat-led cities across the United States have attempted to defund their police departments or actually have done it, and the dramatic rise in violent crimes that have resulted are perhaps not all that surprising given the action they’ve taken.
Last year in Louisiana, the Legislature tried to pass a bill that would prevent cities from defunding the police, but it did fail. What are the defund efforts occurring in Louisiana, and if so, what are you trying to do to push back and defend our law enforcement?
Landry: I can tell you right now that we have, at our office, certainly stood behind our brave men and women in law enforcement 100%.
I can’t answer for what goes on at the capital and the Legislature. We’re supposed to have a majority of Republicans on both sides. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what we have over there. I know we have a liberal governor who basically takes his orders from the Biden White House each and every day.
But we work with our law enforcement officers, with our sheriffs, with our chiefs of police to ensure that they have the resources necessary to combat the violent crime that’s sweeping the nation.
In fact, when I get on the road, I try my best to visit with sheriffs. I was with one [Wednesday] down in southeast Louisiana. I was in north Louisiana [two weeks ago] visiting with a couple of other sheriffs as well.
So, we do our best to make sure that every tool we have available here at the Department of Justice is utilized to ensure that departments aren’t defunded and that people are protected.
Bluey: I know it means so much to law enforcement to have that support and backing, and it’s been encouraging of late, more so than it was last year, to have more Americans speak out in defense of our police.
You have also helped lead the fight in Louisiana and across the nation, frankly, against banks like JPMorgan Chase, which are refusing service to gun manufacturers and possibly other Second Amendment supporters. What are you doing there in Louisiana to push back and hold these companies accountable?
Landry: We led the charge a few years ago on this exact issue. We were able to put in place a policy under which we would select banks that would represent the state of Louisiana.
I caught JPMorgan a month ago, basically engaging in this type of practice. We let the treasurer know. He pulled the item off the agenda in October.
And today we gave the representation of the state of Louisiana on a particular transaction, we took it away from JPMorgan, and we gave it to Wells Fargo, simply because of the efforts that both myself, people like [state] Rep. Blake Miguez, and others have done in order to push the treasurer into supporting the Second Amendment.
Bluey: That’s great, and it seems like it could be a model for other states to look to what you’re doing there and maybe implement some of the same practices.
Landry: Right. You know, I would, again, continue to encourage citizens out there to encourage either their treasurers or their legislatures.
The state of Texas passed a great bill, and I think it was Senate [Bill] 19, where they just banned it outright—policies from the state of Texas doing business with companies that restricted firearms, manufacturing, sales, or anything to do with the firearm industry.
We passed a similar piece of legislation here in Louisiana that the governor vetoed, and it was unfortunate the Legislature refused to override that veto.
Bluey: One of the first things that did when President Biden took office was ban new oil-and-gas leasing on public land and water, although the administration was recently forced to auction more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for drilling. What was the administration forced to do, and how is that going to benefit your state and other Americans?
Landry: What was amazing to me is that the price of gasoline at the pump right now has risen almost 50% since Joe Biden took office. Guess what? That increase is solely based upon his irresponsible policies.
The inflation that Americans are seeing today is based upon those kind of policies, and one of those policies that we took to court was the fact that he wanted to halt the leasing of all federal lands, because a lot of our energy comes from federal lands.
He wanted to halt all federal leasing so that we couldn’t produce energy from any of our federal properties, of which, by the way, the federal government receives a tremendous amount of revenue. I think it’s the second-largest influx of cash into the federal Treasury, other than income tax. He wants to halt all that in an effort to basically starve out the industry.
We took him to court. We won. He was forced to do a lease sale. Now we got to force him to do a five-year plan. Everything that he does, he is doing to halt fossil fuel development and domestic energy here in this country, and it is affecting the poor and the middle class disproportionately.
So, this is coming from a man who claims to represent the little people and the poor. Well, I’m telling you what, I’m a little person. I got to pay at the pump and it’s unconscionable what I have to pay.
Bluey: Thank you for the leadership that you’re providing and the work you’re doing in Louisiana. It’s great to have you as a guest on “The Daily Signal Podcast” and we’ll be following your work closely.
Landry: Thank you.
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