Biden Administration Issues Vaccine Mandates Nationwide

Isaac Coleman, Political Editor

A question of presidential authority

On Sept. 9 President Joe Biden issued an order to the Department of Labor to enact a mandate that would require all employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations or weekly COVID-19 tests for those who are unvaccinated.

The order will affect more than 80 million workers throughout the country and many are questioning the authority of the president to enact this mandate. “There are two centuries of legal precedent on whether states are allowed to mandate vaccines,” Lynn Houlihan said, a Professor of History at CSUEB.

This means that the multiple vaccine mandates that have been enacted by states have been “settled law” since 1905 when the Supreme Court ruled that state-based vaccine mandates are in fact constitutional and that “we don’t have a right to put other people at risk,” Houlihan continued. A vaccine mandate from the federal government has no precedent, but states are still allowed to do what they choose regarding vaccination.

Surrounding businesses, Dr. Christian Roessler, an associate professor of Economics with a specialty in microeconomics at CSUEB, said that many businesses would likely choose to enforce the vaccinations “to avoid the costs and contingencies associated with infections and precautions against them.” The mandate actually provided these businesses the legal framework to enforce their own mandates.

“An epidemic requires this sort of leadership, … it provides a sense of direction,” in Roessler’s opinion. This order signals to businesses that there will likely not be another shutdown of the economy and therefore allow businesses to plan for the future. It’s important for the government to provide the “private sector the choice, requiring only that employers ensure that workers are tested – which is a reasonable emergency public safety measure,” Roessler explained.

There are five industries that are going to be the most affected by a vaccine mandate, “management, utilities, information, finance and insurance, and administration and waste management,” according to CNN.

These industries have more than 80% of their workforce fall within the requirements for the testing. Almost all industries are going to have a majority of their workforce affected, with only construction, agriculture, and hospitality facing less than 50% of the workforce being vaccinated or tested.

As of Sept. 16, 24 states have threatened legal action against the Biden administration. All 24 of the Attorneys General that have sent a letter to the administration are Republicans, led by Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah.

This is setting the stage for many legal battles with the Attorney General of Arizona, Mark Brnovich, a signatory of the letter, already filing a lawsuit against the administration. The letter cites that individuals should be allowed to make their own decisions surrounding vaccinations.

The administration has the authority to enforce the testing mandate and encourage vaccinations, yet this may provide one of Biden’s most difficult promises to keep.