On September 9, President Joe Biden announced that nearly 100 million Americans will be forced to get vaccinated, or else they could lose their livelihoods.
According to Biden, “the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.”
He added, “all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid” and “those who work in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities – a total of 17 million healthcare workers,” must all get vaccinated.
And, for good measure, Biden declared, “I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated — all. And I’ve signed another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same.”
So, per the president, all the health care workers who literally put their lives on the line treating COVID-19 patients over the past 18 months, have no choice but to get vaccinated.
First, does the federal government have the authority to mandate vaccines? In a word, no.
The Constitution grants no such power to the national government. In fact, several officials in the Biden administration, including the president, have articulated that the federal government is not capable of forcing Americans to get vaccinated.
The states, per the 10th Amendment, do possess the power to implement vaccine mandates. In 1905, the Supreme Court ruled that states can enforce compulsory vaccination laws based on the police powers granted to the states in the Constitution. However, in that ruling, as well as subsequent vaccine-oriented rulings, the Court has made it clear that this power belongs to the states, and the states alone.
Moreover, in the landmark 1905 Supreme Court case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the vaccine mandate applied to adults over the age of 21 and the penalty for not abiding by it was a $5 fine, not a loss of one’s livelihood.
And, the Court recognized that in “extreme cases” for people “in a particular condition of … health,” the vaccine mandate could be “cruel and inhumane,” in which the Court ruled it would be necessary to “prevent wrong and oppression.”
In other words, the Court understood that one-size-fits-all vaccine mandates, at the state level, were subject to review on an individual basis, especially when one’s personal health history and current medical conditions were considered.
In the context of Biden’s vaccine mandate, one would assume that natural immunity would be a condition under which a reasonable exception could be made. Of course, there are several more instances in which exceptions should be applied, including those with sincere religious beliefs against vaccinations.
Second, Biden’s federal vaccine mandate violates bodily autonomy.
Biden had the audacity to proclaim that his vaccine mandate “is not about freedom or personal choice.” Of course it is.
What can be more personal than the government forcing an individual to inject a foreign substance into one’s body? Moreover, a national vaccine mandate is a flagrant violation of freedom, despite Biden’s rhetoric.
Unfortunately, Biden’s nationwide vaccine mandate is the culmination of more than 18 months’ worth of heavy-handed, unconstitutional government orders, all under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic.
From economic shutdowns to school closures to mask mandates, the American people have been bombarded with draconian rules and restrictions that are not based on science, but based purely on politics.
Biden’s vaccine mandate is simply the natural evolution of a government that has gone wild issuing proclamations that have nothing to do with stopping the spread, but everything to do with increasing government power while diminishing Americans’ fundamental freedoms.
Chris Talgo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.