Experts in public health law agree that Biden is on a solid legal footing, because his actions are based on federal workplace safety laws. They say Republican governors who insist vaccine mandates are an interference with personal freedom need to reinvigorate their state’s policies.
“This is pure hypocrisy,” Lawrence O’Justin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University, said of Mr. Reeves’ remarks. “Even religious exceptions have been swept away in Mississippi, so how can he say that the President’s order to keep workers safe, mandated by Congress, is bypassing or unconstitutional in any way?”
Reeves’ spokeswoman, Billy Martin, dismissed Mr. Gostin’s assertions. “The only hypocrisy is President Biden and his administration, who have said for months that they will not authorize the vaccine,” she said in an email, adding that Mr. Reeves would use “every tool at his disposal” to block mandates. .
Republicans’ suspicion of vaccines was building up before the pandemic hit; When Donald J. Trump was running for president in 2016, he rejected the solid flag before Raising exposed claims that vaccines cause autism. Now, some governors argue that given the country’s huge divisions, and widespread skepticism in Washington, federal intervention would be counterproductive. It would be better, they say, to allow state officials to continue demonstrating that vaccines are safe and effective, and to let people make decisions for themselves.
“I’m trying to overcome the resistance, but the president’s delegating actions are strengthening the resistance,” Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” School mandates, he said, “always came at the state level, they never came at the national level. It’s an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate power that really disrupts and divides the country.”
Indeed, Dr. Jha said, Mr. Biden has done Republicans a favor.
“What the president is doing is creating political cover for the Republican leaders, who are going to shout out loud because it is politically appropriate,” he said. “But I think many of them are really relieved that now they don’t have to do the hard work of persuading their constituents.”
In fact, when the highly contagious delta variant began tearing apart their communities and flooding their hospitals, many elected Republicans—notably Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader—began to plead for people to get vaccinated. Most Republican governors who have criticized Biden have said the same.