SCOTUS Ends Mandates for U.S. Businesses

SCOTUS Ends Mandates for U.S. Businesses

January 13, 2022

In a huge blow to President Joe Biden, the U.S. Supreme Court responded to his COVID overreach the way most Americans had hoped: striking down the largest of his vaccine mandates. By a vote of 6-3, the justices agreed that the president had zero authority to demand that employers of 100 or more employees be vaccinated or bear the weight of routine testing.

In a rebuke to the White House's COVID strategy, the court's majority reminded Biden and his Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that "Administrative agencies are creatures of statute. They accordingly possess only the authority that Congress has provided. The Secretary has ordered 84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID--19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense. This is no 'everyday exercise of federal power.' It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives -- and health -- of a vast number of employees."

Pointing out that there has "never before" been such a mandate from anyone -- Congress included -- Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Amy Coney Barrett tried to explain the limits of the government's power. While OSHA can set "workplace safety standards," that's not the same as "broad public health measures," they wrote. In our system of government, policies like this one are "the responsibility of those chosen by the people through democratic processes."

Over the objections of Barrett, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, the court did leave the vaccination requirement in place for health care workers at any facilities that get Medicaid and Medicare funds by a narrower 5-4 margin. By the White House's estimate, that means about 17 million Americans will be affected by the stay, which will continue to fuel shortages of healthcare workers as they are fired or quit to avoid the forced vaccine. As far as Justice Thomas is concerned, if it's unconstitutional in the private sector, then it's unconstitutional in the health industry too. In a separate dissent, he argued that the administration doesn't have the authority "to force health care workers, by coercing their employers, to undergo a medical procedure they do not want and cannot undo."

For state leaders across the country, many of whom have been fighting these mandates in court for months, the news came as a huge relief. "Today's ruling protects our individual rights and states' rights to pursue the solutions that work best for their citizens," said our good friend Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R), who led a coalition of states in challenging the rule. FRC congratulates him and the other attorneys general on a hard-fought victory for freedom and personal choice!


Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Biden Fizzles While Home Burns

January 13, 2022

Let's hope whoever Joe Biden was trying to please with his Atlanta speech is happy, because the rest of the country is still scratching its head. While most Americans are struggling to find groceries (and wondering how they'll pay for them when they do), the man in charge was flying to Georgia to rail about nonexistent voting problems. And it's not just the president who's out to lunch. When the worst inflation number in 40 years hit, several Democrats were holed up in emergency meetings. But they weren't brainstorming economic solutions, CNN points out. They were there to persuade moderates to blow up the Senate rules.

It's that kind of disconnect, voters believe, that's fueling this horrible mess. "I don't want to say this, but when Donald Trump was here, it was nothing like this," said a woman in Nevada who voted for Democrats last time around. "Instead of things getting better," she said, "it's getting worse every time." And instead of bringing people together to solve our problems, the president can't even admit they exist. When reporters asked Biden about the seven-percent inflation, he called it "progress."

"The reality Democrats are missing," CNN warned, "is that people are hurting right now." They pointed to the upset in Virginia's gubernatorial race as a preview of things to come if Biden's party doesn't get serious about these economic hardships. "Republican Glenn Youngkin pulled off a shock win by actually listening to what voters were saying about education and the cost of groceries -- while Democrats were running against the extremism of ex-President Trump." There's legitimate pain and anxiety in our nation right now and absolutely no indication that the party in charge cares about helping us out of these crises. Instead, the president is zipping off to Georgia to call people who support voter ID policies racist.

It's a tone-deafness that Democrats will almost certainly pay for. As Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) pointed out on "Washington Watch," "The average family in America paid $3,500 more last year to buy exactly the same things they bought the year before. For a lot of families, $3,500 is a huge amount of money." If we put that in perspective, he explained, our current inflation rate is so high that it's reversing three years of paycheck gains for most families. "It's lowered the standard of living for a lot of families. Worse, there's no end in sight."

Why? Because the problem isn't COVID. The problem is bad policy. When President Biden first got into office, he ignored everyone's concerns about the economy and decided to spend more. Inflation isn't a problem, he argued. It doesn't exist -- and even if it did, Biden shrugged, it won't last. Well, it turns out, "this trend isn't 'transitory,'" House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy argued. "And it's all happening under Democrats' one-party control." If you don't believe him, look at the situation in other countries. "America leads the world in the highest inflation," Brady pointed out. "Can you imagine if Democrats in Congress fuel that inflation with another $5 trillion dollars of spending [through Biden's] Build Back Better plan? Can you imagine how bad that will get?"

The American people can. They already blame Biden for inflation and agree (by a 25-point margin!) that passing his socialist boondoggle would only make matters worse. And pockets of the mainstream media are starting to agree "None of [Democrats] tax-and-spend proposals will solve the root causes of price increases and shortages," Jennifer Stefano warned in the Hill. "If Congress wants to continue devaluing the dollar and making Americans poorer, lawmakers should simply stay the course and do what the White House and Sen.¿Bernie Sanders¿(I-Vt.) are calling for -- spend trillions of dollars in an already overheated economy."

If the president weren't a part of the equation, Brady says, America would be in a much better place. "We've seen an independent study that shows our economy would be growing faster and inflation would be lower if we had a Biden-free economy. So if Democrats [hadn't] shove[d] through that $2 trillion dollar COVID bill and continued to push policies to drive up inflation then actually we'd see it lowering. And so, I think there's a reason why the first year of the Biden presidency has been so bitterly disappointing for so many Americans is that he hasn't made their life better. He's made it worse."

But if this is, as Biden said last week, "the economy I promised and hoped for, for the American people," then he's done voters a favor. The choice between the two parties has never been clearer -- or easier.


Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


All Trails Lead to Cardona in Parents-as-Terrorist Flap

January 13, 2022

For Joe Biden, the uproar his administration caused by calling parents "domestic terrorists" has been a controversy he never could shake. Since October, when Attorney General Merrick Garland threatened to sic the FBI on moms and dads who spoke up at school board meetings, the administration has been on the losing side of a very public PR battle. Now, the optics are worse. Just how much collusion was there between the administration and the National School Board Association (NSBA) in the weeks leading up to the letter? A lot more, it turns out, than any of us were led to believe.

When the firestorm started, it didn't take long for the NSBA to walk their letter back -- revealing that a number of their leaders had no idea it had been sent in the first place. There "was no justification for some of the language included in the letter," the group said. "We should have had a better process in place to allow for consultation on a communication of this significance." Garland, to most people's surprise, stood by his memo, insisting to angry Republicans in the House and Senate that the DOJ's overreaction was perfectly justified. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, meanwhile, continued to feign ignorance.

Now, thanks to new emails just released as part of a parents' group Freedom of Information Act request, we know that the president's top educator had at least some knowledge of the letter beforehand. In an October 5th email, NSBA Secretary-Treasurer Kristi Swett remembered that NSBA interim CEO Chip Slaven "told the officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cardona." Slaven himself told the others that he'd been in talks "over the last several weeks with White House staff" who had "requested additional information on some of the specific threats."

It's a damning picture for the Biden administration, who has insisted for months that it didn't coordinate the attack on parents. As usual, the president's team has tried to lie itself out of the crisis, insisting as recently as the last 24 hours that Cardona had nothing to do with it. "While the Secretary did not solicit a letter from NSBA, to understand the views and concerns of stakeholders, the Department routinely engages with students, teachers, parents, district leaders and education associations," a spokesperson said.

House Republicans don't buy it -- or, at the very least, want to hear from Cardona's own lips. In a letter to the secretary's office, Congresswoman Mary Miller (R-Ill.) is demanding answers to very basic questions by this Friday. For instance, "Did you speak to anyone at NSBA about the September 29 letter before it was sent?" Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) piled on, calling for immediate hearings. "It is abundantly clear to me that Secretary Cardona must answer to the Education and Labor Committee, Congress on the whole, and especially the American people."

At the end of the day, Miller said, "[Cardona needs to] testify under oath so we can find out the truth. My experience with him is he knows how to wiggle and pivot and possibly even lie... [T]his is as an outrageous claim, and we need to know from him what actually happened. I don't think we should let this go any farther. What's happening in our country is outrageous."

Asked if she was surprised that Biden's administration was targeting everyday Americans, Miller said, "Yes... but I'd like to return the surprise to them. I want Americans to wake up and fight back and quit being passive. Get off the sidelines. The schools belong to us. We fund them. Those are our children and the schools are accountable to us. We want transparency in the curriculum. We want accountability. We don't want D.C. elites telling us how to raise our children and how to live."


Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.