Issues & Insights

Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Violates Fundamental Freedoms


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 (ctalgo@heartland.orgis senior editor at The Heartland Institute.

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  • Let me see, if I got this right: The states of the USA, and presumably also local governments below the state level, have almost unlimited dictatorial powers (health, climate change, equity, racial mandates, whatever). But the Federal government is slightly constrained by the constitution. Thus, the point of the article seems to be that government below the federal level has almost unlimited authority (God-given divine right?) to impose mandates and tyrannies on the populace. Certainly, in practice this does seem to be the case of late. This is the exact opposite of the Boston Tea Party and the founding of the USA in rebellion against Britain and George III. No doubt the author if alive in 1776 would have been a George III loyalist and moved to Canada after the 1776 USA revolutionary government came to power.

    Tyranny in the USA is a Retro movement, a blast back to George III and the past with AOC, Pelosi, Cuomo, Whitmer, Sanders, Warren, et al. reigning as the new feudal Lords until overthrown, resigned or voted out. But being operationally decentralized or more locally based in cities, states, school districts, large corporate employers, etc,, this Tyranny, says the author, is fully constitutional. As the old Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and modern day communist Cuba have demonstrated, the most effective Tyranny is local (e.g. neighborhood and workplace councils in communist Cuba and the old USSR).

    Local Tyranny is also easily federalized, as anyone working for local agencies knows from everyday experience. The USA federal government has enormous means via federal funding ($$) and myriad regulations and agencies of all sorts to impose its Will and mandates (regardless of constitutionality) more effectively than George III. AOC, Biden, Pelosi et al. are demonstrating what their mentor Obama taught, that the constitution is essentially inoperative, a meaningless document that can be overriden by executive orders and mandates at all levels. Several years can go by and the legal costs can be enormous to challenge even one local mandate, as churches shutdown by California government can attest. I hope the author is not representative of The Heartland Institute.

    • His response would no doubt be “if you don’t like Local Tyranny A, move to Local Tyranny B”.

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