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Attorney General Steve Marshall’s opinion over vaccine mandate questioned

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 3:50 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is telling Alabama employers, particularly state universities, to be careful proceeding with any mandatory vaccinations. Most state universities, including the University of Alabama and Auburn University have set December 8th as a deadline for all employees to get vaccinated.

The Attorney General said businesses and universities should not ask too many questions if an employee seeks vaccine exemptions for religious or medical reasons. Marshall, along with top lawmakers and a state personnel official, have promised to help employees who are fired find new jobs.

Marshall, along with Governor Kay Ivey, believes the mandate coming from President Biden is an example of government overreach in authority. “This is a continuing battle between state officials and federal government officials if they can require vaccines for employees and under what circumstance,” John Carroll, Cumberland Law School Professor and former federal judge said.

Marshall said state universities should not inquire too much into employee claims for an exemption, saying they are protected by federal law and the U.S. Constitution. Carroll said federal law requires employees to prove those exemptions. “The Attorney General is saying no, all you have to say is my religion forbids me from getting a vaccine and that is the end of the inquiry. The Attorney General is really trying to change federal law a little bit in this regard,” Carroll said.

The Attorney General is asking anyone who is fired to contact his Civil Rights Division. Marshall is promising to use state resources to help those employees find similar work at other state schools.

“The question is going to ultimately be ‘is this federal law valid or not?’ If it is federal officials are going to have to follow it. If it’s not, then we won’t have to worry about any of this stuff,” Carroll said.

Carroll predicts all of this heading to federal courts to decide. Lawsuits may be filed as soon as someone is terminated for not following the mandate.

Some are wondering what will happen to Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin. Harsin has not indicated if he is vaccinated or plans to get vaccinated. Carroll said Harsin, like every other employee at Auburn, is now obligated to get the shot. That opens the door if the state can find Harsin a similar job at another state school.

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