This week, President Joe Biden addressed the concerns voiced for months by millions of immunized Americans. The United States economy continues to remain strained, and the safety of many Americans is still at risk due to an “unvaccinated pandemic,” created by almost 80 million Americans that refuse to get the vaccine.
The President also introduced a number of new immunization measures. The most powerful requirement is that big businesses need vaccinations or weekly tests to safeguard their workers against unvaccinated coworkers.
“The Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week,” stated president Biden. He then added that the Labor Department will “require employers with 100 or more workers to give those workers paid time off to get vaccinated.”
That raises the question quickly whether this can be done by the labor department. After Biden’s statement, many GOP Governors pledged legal action right away, despite the fact that it is far from apparent why a state, not a private business, might file such a complaint.
First of all: the requirements of vaccines are not unlawful. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the municipal health commission to require smallpox (back in 1905). And states usually need a broad array of vaccinations for almost all school students.
For instance, in Georgia, almost all children have to get vaccines against polio, hepatitis B, tetanus, and septicemia, among many others diseases. But it does not necessarily follow that the Labor Departments may do that as well, as Biden argues, create a binding regulation that requires a big business to promote immunization merely because the Constitution allows the government to compel vaccinations. Only a congressional statute may be applied by the Labor Department. So if Congress adopts new legislation, if it intends to regulate employers, the agency must depend on an existing act.