Reynolds joins lawsuit challenging vaccine mandate


Gov. Kim Reynolds, running for re-election, waves to the crowd during her segment of the “Save America” rally.

Finn Mcnally

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds joined 10 other governors and multiple organizations in a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s recent vaccine mandate. The lawsuit claims that the mandate is government overreach. 

President Joe Biden implemented a new emergency standard that requires all federally contracted employees and all private businesses with over 100 employees to be vaccinated by Jan. 4. They will also be given the option to test their employees on a weekly basis starting Jan. 4.

Reynolds released a statement where she described the mandate as unprecedented.

“This mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful and unwise,” Reynolds said. “The federal government lacks constitutional authority under its enumerated powers to issue this mandate, and its attempt to do so unconstitutionally infringes on the States’ powers expressly reserved by the Tenth Amendment.” 

Dirk Deam, a teaching professor of political science at Iowa State University, said the mandate is unprecedented because the pandemic is unprecedented, but the use of government in an emergency is not.

“The authority of government generally, state, local and federal, to deal with emergencies is pretty well settled,” Deam said. “Public health and safety, the term itself doesn’t make any sense if government isn’t able to enforce certain regulations to ensure such a thing.”

Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-23) said Congress has the explicit power to regulate interstate commerce.

“The principle has been established that businesses over a certain size are presumed to be engaged in interstate commerce,” Quirmbach said. “The governors have asserted that the federal government doesn’t have the right to regulate that. If the federal government didn’t have the right to regulate that, then the federal government wouldn’t have the right to pass civil rights laws.” 

Reynolds said that her opposition to the mandate is not because she is against the vaccines, but rather because she’s against the government requiring them.

“I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but I also firmly believe in Iowans’ right to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families, and I remain committed to protecting those freedoms,” Reynolds said. “President Biden should do the same.”  

Deam said if there has been a constitutional violation he would think that Reynolds and the other governors would be clear about what specific violations were made.

“I’m afraid what we see here is just political theater,” Deam said. “It’s not really rooted in understandable legal principles. People have become too loose with the charge that things are unconstitutional. We have to pay attention to the law and see what the constitution actually allows and restricts.”

Reynolds has repeatedly said vaccines are the best options to combat the pandemic, but has opposed mandates for them while also attempting to ban mask mandates in schools, an order that has been blocked by a federal judge. 

“Kim Reynolds has a death wish for Iowans,” said Quirmbach. “You have a vaccine that’s 90 percent effective and yet the state of Iowa is suing against a mandate to use it.”

Quirmbach was also critical of the Iowa Board of Regents. He said he was impressed with Iowa State’s handling of the pandemic prior to the vaccine, but has failed to be effective since then despite having a better tool to combat the virus.

“I think that the Board of Regents, and particularly the President of the Board of Regents, have been derelict in their duty to protect the students and the staff at Iowa State University,” Quirmbach said.