Siena College's Student Newspaper

Politics

Freedom, Vaccine, and Separation of Powers: Why Biden’s Latest Attempt to Vaccinate American Workers Might Be Unconstitutional

Three weeks ago, in a televised address to the American People, President Biden issued what could amount to a final warning to vaccine-hesitant Americans. The message said: “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal is costing all of us.” His remarks were to reaffirm to the public the efficacy and safety of the vaccines and to outline the White House’s latest plan to fight the virus amidst the recent emergence of the Delta variant.

In the same speech from the White House briefing room, the President unrolled his sweeping proposal to fight vaccine hesitancy and ensure the safety of millions of skeptical Americans against a disease that has ravaged the country for far too long. The plan consists of a multifaceted effort to ensure the protection of the inoculated while simultaneously compelling reluctant Americans to ignore their premonitions and get vaccinated. The centerpiece of his most recent project is an executive mandate from the department of labor to prompt companies with 100 or more employees to make vaccination a mandatory requirement for all current and prospective employees.

As comprehensive as Mr. Biden’s approach seems, critics have raised some valid objections about the constitutionality of some of these initiatives, specifically about his labor department mandate. This mandate, as the White House described, could potentially exceed the boundaries of the authority vested in the agency, or what is granted to it by the legislature.

Many critics say that the President’s newfound authority by the vehicle of corporate America—making health decisions for the citizens—gives the executive nearly unlimited (and unconstitutional) control over the individual. Armed with this newly precedented power, the executive would have the authority to completely sidestep the auspices of the judiciary and the legislature, thus violating the doctrine of the separation of powers expressed in the principal articles of the constitution. Constitutional scholars across the nation have thrown up their arms, saying this violation would render the chief executive’s latest Covid-related initiative flagrantly unconstitutional.

But even as the critical voices grow louder, President Biden, The Labor Department and the rest of the executive branch all remain committed to carrying out the White House’s latest attempt to mitigate the plight of the virus.

 Even amidst the controversy, the White House maintains that their plan will go into effect immediately, with executives already having been briefed on the intricacies of each of their roles. But it remains to be seen whether some of this plan will be able to withstand the challenges that the courts will inevitably present or not.

Leave a Reply