While other states like California and New York are coercing its residents and children to take the COVID vaccine, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, R, has issued an executive order banning any entity from implementing vaccine mandates for anyone, including employees, customers, and students.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said.
The move was taken in response to Joe Biden’s September 9 address to the nation in which he said that employers with over 100 employees must implement vaccine mandates or face severe punishment. To comply, employers around the country, including in Texas, have designed their own coercive mandates. Employees who don’t get vaccinated are being punished with termination or being placed on unpaid leave.
Abbott’s order is designed to prevent that result for his constituents. The order says, “In yet another instance of federal overreach, the Biden administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’s continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster… countless Texans fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
The order continues,
“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19. I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.”
Abbott also announced that he will ask the state legislature to quickly take up the cause and pass a state law banning vaccine mandates.
Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates has a functional purpose, which is to immediately protect the livelihoods and individual rights of Texans, whether someone is an employee, a small business owner, a corporate executive, a churchgoer, or a student, as well as to protect the Texas economy from mass firings and economic chaos. But it is also designed to answer both a constitutional question and an existential one:
Pro-vaccine mandates argue that Americans must submit to the shot because of Supreme Court precedent, pointing to the case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts in which the Court upheld a state law that required residents to either take a vaccine against the deadly smallpox virus or pay a $5 fine (the plaintiff, a Lutheran pastor, ultimately chose to pay the fine to the state, not get the shot).
What the Court upheld was a state law, however, and whether or that precedent extends to an executive order at the federal level has not yet been tested constitutionally. Abbott’s order is likely to put that precedent to the test — if the Biden administration ever gets around to implementing the private company mandate.
That’s right. Biden’s private employer mandate does not actually exist, as the Federalist explained so adroitly in a recent article. The President said in his national address that private employers of a certain size must mandate vaccines for their employees and his staff even put his statement in writing in a press release. But that’s it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency Biden directed to implement and oversee the mandate, has yet to even begin the federal rule-making process to give the agency the authority required to carry out the mandate, much less provide any guidance to companies.
Meanwhile, though, employers have reacted to this legal sleight of hand, and many of them are all in on it, going so far as to set arbitrary dates for when employees must be vaccinated or lose their jobs.
Abbott’s order recognizes that a public official’s primary duties are to follow the Constitution and to protect the rights and well-being of his constituents. Biden’s policies appear to be beholden only to the principle of the ends justify the means, and if laws are ignored or someone gets hurt in the process — be they the Americans left behind enemy lines in Afghanistan or minority communities devastated by illegal immigration and “defund the police” policies or employees losing their ability to feed their families over a phantom vaccine mandate — then so be it. So long as people do what they say, they believe that they are governing effectively.
Texas companies are clearly in a bind, caught between federal and state demands and the fog of a cultural and informational war. But like each of us, they must ultimately decide: Will they adhere to the rule of law outlined in the U.S. Constitution and their own moral code — or to the dictates of an increasingly lawless administration? They should choose wisely.