Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, right, watches an unmasked Gov. Tate Reeves respond to a reporter's question during a news briefing regarding Mississippi's COVID-19 response in Jackson, Miss., Aug. 13, 2021. Reeves did not wear a face mask during the 90-minute briefing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Gov. Tate Reeves, in a blistering social media post, said on Tuesday he and Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch expect to file a lawsuit later this week challenging the vaccine mandate being imposed on certain businesses by President Joe Biden.

Reeves said the federal mandates “threaten every Mississippian’s individual liberties. They are nothing short of tyranny.”

Biden had said in September he intended to impose vaccine mandates on federal agencies, businesses with federal contracts and companies with more than 100 employees.

READ MORE: In a reversal, IHL requires employees be vaccinated by Dec. 8 to comply with federal order

The Biden administration released guidelines for federal contractors on Monday. The guidelines allow companies to make exceptions to the mandate for religious convictions and for those who might not take the vaccine because of health issues.

“Although the federal government has not followed through on a single threat, many institutions across the country have acted rashly out of fear of losing their federal funds,” Reeves said, apparently referring to the religious and health exceptions. “They should be reminded that the state of Mississippi will not be in the business of subsidizing or supporting institutions that fail to go out of their way to respect at least these basis human rights.”

Reeves continued: “Every Mississippi business, university and hospital should bend over backwards to accommodate and presume good will.”

Guidelines for private companies employing more than 100 people are expected later this week. That mandate will be based on provisions of law giving the federal government the authority to impose regulations to ensure worker safety.

To date, COVID-19 has killed 10,129 Mississippians, giving the state the highest death rate in the nation. Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rates in America, ranking 47th, though vaccines are free and widely available.

READ MORE: Reeves downplays Mississippi’s highest-in-nation COVID death rate

Earlier this summer Reeves said he did not believe governmental institutions could impose vaccine mandates. When it was pointed out to him that the state of Mississippi imposes vaccine mandates to enter public schools and universities, he refused to say whether he wanted to eliminate those. He later said he did not believe such mandates should be issued by executive order.

The courts in the past have upheld vaccine mandates, though those involved state and local governmental mandates.

Fitch, in her second year in office, has a history of filing lawsuits on national issues. Earlier this year she joined litigation trying to disenfranchise millions of voters in key battleground states in an effort to reverse the outcome of the presidential election. That lawsuit was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. She is currently involved in a lawsuit trying to reverse the constitutional right to an abortion.


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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.