Published September 10, 2021
President Biden’s speech Thursday announcing the imposition of national vaccine requirements was more than a brazen flip-flop. It was a breathtaking disregard for the Constitution and an arrogant display of overreaching federal power.
First, the flip-flop. In December, Biden told Americans he would not impose a national vaccine mandate, reassuring people that their core freedoms would be protected even as the nation fought the coronavirus. Now, even though more than 75 percent of U.S. adults — and over 90 percent of senior citizens — have received at least one vaccine dose, Biden has reversed course. What was unthinkable then has now essentially become federal policy.
More troubling is the executive order’s manifest unconstitutionality. Biden’s order does three primary things. First, it establishes a mandate that all federal employees and the employees of government contractors be vaccinated against covid-19. Second, it requires that all employees of private employers of 100 or more employees, regardless of their connection with the federal government, either be vaccinated or undergo weekly coronavirus tests. Finally, it requires all entities that receive payments from Medicare or Medicaid to require health-care workers to be vaccinated.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.