Gov. Brian Kemp, along with leaders from six other states, is taking President Joe Biden to court over his sweeping federal vaccine mandate that Republicans call an “unlawful and unconstitutional overreach.”

In a lawsuit filed last week, Kemp and other Republicans claim Biden does not have the constitutional power to enact the provision in his plan that requires federal contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

During a press conference Wednesday, Kemp called the vaccine requirement a “recipe for financial disaster.”

We will not stand for this outrageous, big government power grab,” he said.

The mandate widely affects the University System of Georgia and may include other state agencies, whose employees may have to get the shot as well.

The Board of Regents previously decided that vaccine shots could not be required for employees of the university system and barred professors from requiring them for students. But in a change of course, both the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech announced last week they would comply with Biden’s order.

Both schools, as well as others in the system, receive millions of dollars in federal funding each year.

Attorney General Chris Carr

Attorney General Chris Carr outlines a lawsuit against President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate during a press conference on Nov. 3.

Credit: Riley Bunch/GPB News

Attorney General Chris Carr said Wednesday that while Biden may have limited capacity to require vaccines for federal contractors, the president cannot make decisions on behalf of the state university system.

“He certainly cannot use the federal contracting power to run the state University System of Georgia,” Carr said. “That is commandeering what is clearly in the Constitution, our authority.”

Kemp argued the mandate leaves businesses in a position where they have to choose between complying and terminating employees or missing out on federal contract dollars — a substantial part of revenue.

This executive action makes it more likely you could lose employees to other competitors,” Kemp said, “Even if you can keep the workers you have, congratulations, Joe Biden has now made you into the vaccine police.”

Biden’s executive order instituting the mandate requires contractors who work with the federal government to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. Federal employees have a shorter timeline and are required to get the shots by Nov. 22.

Agriculture Commissioner and U.S. Senate hopeful Gary Black flanked Kemp during his press conference and warned of the potential effect the mandate could have on the state’s food system.

Although unclear, Black said the mandate could affect state employees who work with the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture.

I firmly believe that communication from the federal government said it is in our intent to do this,” Black said. “It must be addressed now. We need clarity.”

The state agriculture department also shares a number of facilities with the university system.

Throughout the pandemic, Democrats and Republicans have battled over public health decisions in court — from business closures to mask mandates and now, vaccine requirements.

Kemp is up for reelection in 2022 and has embarked on a series of actions to fuel his deep-red base. Carr, too, faces reelection while Black is currently campaigning in the Republican primary for Sen. Raphael Warnock's seat.