Will the governor be stopped?
Jeff Landry, Louisiana’s Republican Attorney General, is suing Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards to bar the governor from making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for children to attend schools.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in a Louisiana District Court by Landry and state lawmaker Rep. Raymond Crews (R), argues the governor is violating the state constitution in his plans to add COVID-19 vaccination to the immunization schedule for schools.
Despite a bipartisan panel of lawmakers rejecting the governor’s proposal, Edwards revealed on Tuesday his plans to move forward with the requirement. He contended the vote did not legally stop him from implementing the regulation.
However, the lawsuit could delay those plans.
The lawsuit stipulates Edward is in violation of the state’s constitution, which gives power to the legislature to make laws, not the executive branch.
Landry also argues the state law permitting the governor to override legislature’s rejection of a regulatory proposal is unconstitutional, saying that Louisiana’s constitution only granted the governor power to enforce a law, not make it.
Nevertheless, the governor’s office made a statement to the press that his actions were legal. The governor’s spokeswoman, Christina Stephens, said that although they hadn’t reviewed the AG’s filing in full, Louisiana’s Department of Health was within its legal authority to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the immunization schedule.
To substantiate his reasoning, Edward’s administration stated the COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective, adding that having children vaccinated would save lives.
In Edward’s letter to lawmakers, where he informed them of his decision, he supported his choice by saying that since March 2020, 19 children had died from COVID-19 in Louisiana, whereas no one had died from receiving the vaccine. He also added that Louisiana offered broad exemptions to its school immunization requirements, available to parents who object in writing.
For the time being, the vaccine requirement would only apply to those who had been fully approved by the FDA to receive the vaccine – those aged 16 and older. But when the FDA gives full approval for those under 16, the governor’s plan would also require them to be vaccinated.