Attorneys general in 24 states sent a letter to President Biden yesterday, threatening legal action if he follows through on his threat to mandate private companies with more than 100 employees to require their employees either take the coronavirus vaccine, submit to weekly testing, or be fired. One of those attorneys general, Dave Yost of Ohio, explained further on "Washington Watch."
"What the president said he wanted to do," said Yost, "seems clearly beyond his authority." President Biden plans to define coronavirus as an occupational safety hazard to be enforced by the Department of Labor, a step clearly outside the intended purpose of the law, the letter argued.
"Congress writes the laws, not the president. He doesn't get to govern by dictate," said Yost. "The difference between a democracy and a monarchy or a dictatorship is that in a democracy laws have to be written by a representative body, a congress or a parliament. In a monarchy or a dictatorship, one executive decides what the rules are and they enforce them. That is just fundamentally opposite our constitutional order."
Not only is President Biden circumventing Congress' authority to write laws, said Yost, but he is interfering with health issues which are properly considered "part of the police power that belongs to the states." (Thus, to date, the CDC has issued only recommended guidelines, which state health departments have adopted, modified, or rejected. Mask mandates and lockdowns were widely issued by state governors, but the federal government only issued a mask mandate covering areas of federal jurisdiction, like federal property and air travel.)
Everyone, even the Biden administration, understands the president lacks the authority for such a mandate. "They know they don't have the legal authority," Yost explained, "but they do it knowing it'll be in the courts forever." President Biden's strategy seems strikingly similar to one he employed only weeks ago, when he unilaterally extended an illegal moratorium on evictions, in direct violation of a Supreme Court ruling. Then, Biden admitted his action was illegal, but he was simply buying time for his policies. He said he sought the "ability to, if we have to appeal, to keep this going for a month at least. I hope longer."
In striking down Biden's eviction moratorium, the Supreme Court stated clearly that the Constitution "does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends." They added, "we expect Congress to speak clearly when authorizing an agency to exercise powers of 'vast economic and political significance.'" It seems President Biden is simply calculating he can force many businesses to comply with his diktat before the Supreme Court obliterates it.
Yost said the attorneys general would likely ask for a temporary restraining order -- when the administration actually produces a regulation. "Right now, it's not in effect." (Some private companies have begun requiring vaccination as a condition of employment, but that is their own decision.)
The silver lining of President Biden's brazen lawlessness is that it serves to highlight the checks and balances of America's federal system. When you don't live in a monarchy ruled by King Joseph the First. When 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue overreaches, it triggers a reaction across town at the Supreme Court. But it also triggers a larger wave of resistance from those governments outside the Washington beltway that actually listen to the American people.