The minute President Joe Biden announced his vaccine mandate yesterday the sound of thousands of cell phones went off in unison (probably) as lawyers who specialize in politics and business began brainstorming possible angles for lawsuits. And why wouldn’t they? As Andrew McCarthy writes at National Review, “There is no general federal health-care power.”
But the Biden administration is apparently banking on the idea that “providing for the general welfare” of American citizens means regulating health care; or, more specifically, health insurance through interstate commerce.
Indeed, the government presumes to regulate medical care, extensively but only indirectly, by regulating health insurance. That this is an interstate market cannot be denied, even if the government’s regulatory targeting of it is largely pretextual – i.e., progressives are more interested in dictating (and eventually rationing) medical treatment than in the insurance market.
Even under the unjustifiably wide berth the Supreme Court has given Congress’s pretextual invocations of commerce power, especially since the New Deal, the justices nevertheless declined in the 2012 Obamacare ruling to approve a mandate to buy medical insurance. That is because the Constitution only permits Congress to regulate ongoing interstate commerce, not to coerce people into engaging in such commerce.
A vaccine is not even commerce, much less interstate commerce.
To put it starkly, if the president may order a medical mandate because the federal government (and not the executive, mind you) is supposed to provide for the general welfare, then is there anything the federal government may not do? Is there anything left of the federalist principle that states are sovereign regarding their internal affairs? Absent the assurance of that principle’s vitality, the Constitution would never have been ratified.
That last astute observation is why, almost immediately, state leaders took to social media and news outlets and let Biden know that if he meant to come for them — as he boldly declared — it better be because they called for him, to borrow a phrase.
Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, South Dakota, West Virginia and others have all officially made noise that they will push back on Biden’s mandate. The RNC plans to sue. And there are already discrimination lawsuits related to vaccine mandates at schools. So…a federally-imposed vaccine mandate seems like a losing proposition.
Which makes one wonder why the administration is trying it. Could it be simply to prolong the pain and sturm und drang of the pandemic because, when the fire burns out, the sifting through ashes begins in search of the cause? That seems plausible.
But until the legal challenges get sorted, the American people are being separated into classes based on vaccination status and I’m not sure I’ve seen a more irresponsible move by a president in my time observing these things.
The Biden administration is playing a very dangerous game and I’m not sure it’s ultimately one they’ll end up winning, legally or politically. But the pain will be acute for a little while.
I cover all that in today’s show, as well as offer my thoughts on the very fun and irreverent “Reservation Dogs” (trailer below) and give you some suggestions (thanks to Military.com) for films to watch to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11 this Saturday.