Joe Biden should remember George Washington's refusal to be king. Plus, abortion piece blowback

By Gary Abernathy

What gives Biden authority to order vaccinations?

When President Biden announced his latest edicts on covid, I kept asking myself, “What gives him the authority to force private businesses to require employees to get vaccinated?” The answer is, there is nothing that gives him such power. Frankly, I don’t think he even has the authority to order federal workers to be vaccinated.

I’m pro vaccine. I’m fully vaccinated. I think just about everyone should get vaccinated against covid. But I don’t think the president or a governor or any other public official has the constitutional authority to order anyone to get vaccinated. Nor does the Labor Department or any other federal agency, including health-related agencies, have the authority to order Americans to get vaccinated, or businesses to require it.

If private businesses choose, of their own accord, to require employees to be vaccinated, that probably passes constitutional muster. But the government ordering businesses to do so is clearly overreach. Biden’s mandate orders are a testament to the failure of his powers of persuasion.

It’s amazing to me — and sad — how so many of our major media outlets are not more vociferously questioning Biden’s authority to issue a vaccine mandate. Many are painting such questions or complaints as only coming from Republicans, as though it’s purely partisan in nature. In fact, every media outlet in America should be calling out Biden for this unconstitutional power grab, even if Republicans weren’t complaining.

In offering one of the few justifications to be found anywhere, the Washington Post reported, “The Labor Department has the authority to order companies to take specific actions to protect their workers if the secretary determines they face a grave danger, said an official who briefed reporters before the president’s speech.” But the story added that “critics such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signaled court challenges even before Biden had finished speaking. ‘I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration,’ Kemp tweeted.”

The Labor Department — through its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — has primarily exercised that authority over issues of physical safety, such as addressing the dangers of equipment or chemicals in factories and other businesses. Forcing vaccines will likely be challenged as an entirely different matter, as an expert notes in the video above.

The Post also noted, “Just half of Americans in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll supported the idea of businesses requiring employees to be vaccinated, and the split was highly partisan. Roughly 8 in 10 Democrats supported such mandates, while more than 6 in 10 Republicans opposed them.”

In the same story, Anthony Fauci, the virologist whose every word is gospel to some Americans, said — in the least surprising comment of the day — that he was “very much in favor of making and encouraging mandates.” Fauci would apparently love being part of an autocracy.

Even if you think, as I do, that everyone should get vaccinated except those with real medical concerns or religious reasons not to, we should also agree that no president has the authority to mandate it. This must be challenged, or abuse of presidential power will continue to expand.

Many agree the president can’t mandate vaccines. Why? “It goes back to the fact that the federal government is one of limited power,” according to Dorit Reiss, a professor specializing in healthcare law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, as reported in an article in the business journal Quartz last year. The article added:

Largely, matters of public health fall onto states’ shoulders. The tenth amendment of the constitution says that any law the constitution doesn’t cover goes to the states—and “the constitution doesn’t mention the words ‘public health,’” Reiss says. What it does mention are things like collecting taxes, declaring war, and regulating interstate business. If the federal government really wanted to find a way to enforce vaccines, it could look for a way to do so by exercising one of those powers. Congress could pass laws to limit disease spread across state borders, like requiring that all Amtrak passengers be vaccinated, says Reiss. But the US Supreme Court might not let such a law stand, if the justices determined that Congress was overreaching.

When it was suggested that George Washington should not just be our first president, but instead a king, “A shocked Washington immediately rejected the offer out of hand as both inappropriate and dishonorable, and demanded the topic never be raised again.” Biden should be reminded that he is not a king. He is not a dictator.

By the way, I’m still waiting for Biden to be blamed for every covid death under his watch. It wouldn’t be fair, but it wasn’t fair when Donald Trump was blamed. During the 2020 campaign, Biden promised, “I will end this.” He should be held to that promise by doing so — and without resorting to unconstitutional mandates.

So far, more than 241,000 Americans have died of covid since Biden took office in late January. That’s according to the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news source. Why isn’t the mainstream media tracking it as aggressively as they did under Trump, when so many of them, along with Biden, blamed Trump for every single death attributed to covid?

Abortion column gets usual claim that it’s ‘women’s issue’

I seldom write about abortion, mostly because people’s feelings about it are pretty much carved in stone. There’s nothing anyone will say on either side that will change the minds of those who disagree. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal last week to stay the new Texas abortion law, which makes most abortions illegal after six weeks of fetal development — prompted me to write about the subject in my latest Washington Post column.

I made the point that while America is less religious than ever, as backed up by the latest Gallup poll on the subject, the advances in pre-natal science are making it nearly impossible to claim that an unborn child is merely a part of the body, like an organ, or just an impersonal clump of tissue. I wrote:

Advances in prenatal care are sometimes used to argue in favor of abortion, as when Down syndrome markers are identified. In some U.S. medical circles, there’s a troubling notion that a Down syndrome diagnosis should trigger terminating a pregnancy, and the practice is even more prevalent in other countries. It’s an attitude at odds with those parents who testify to the special joy such children bring to their families and the productive lives they often lead.

But overall, the leaps and bounds in prenatal science since 1973 are making it increasingly difficult to suggest that an unborn child is merely an impersonal fetus — a clump of tissue — or part of a woman’s body like an organ. Doctors today can repair or stabilize an unborn child’s defects in the womb, from tumors on the lungs to holes in the diaphragm to spina bifida to various heart defects. High-tech software that produces images in the earliest weeks of fetal development are astounding in their detail as these small humans are visibly, as the psalmist put it, “knit together.”

In this age of in utero medical miracles, the notion that the difference between termination or the gift of life is whether a baby is wanted seems increasingly absurd. It’s a standard we wouldn’t tolerate at any other stage of existence.

The feedback I’ve received so far by email (I don’t read the mostly anonymous comments that are posted with the columns, so far numbering more than 2,400 on this one) has been interesting, but many contain the usual feminist putdowns.

“You can comment on abortion when you grow a uterus.”

“You can have an opinion on abortion when a woman says you can.”

“Just another man telling women what they can do with their bodies.”

And so on.

Abortion is not just a woman’s issue. Men have numerous reasons to be involved in abortion decisions, and everyone has a responsibility to care, and a right to weigh in, on issues of life and death. But aside from that, the laws on abortion are being written mostly by men, since men still dominate Congress and most state legislatures. Like it or not, it’s important to have them involved in any discussion of abortion if you hope to influence laws one way or the other.

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