On Thursday evening, President Joe Biden told unvaccinated Americans he was losing patience with them, and it was their fault other Americans are dying. Then he announced wide-ranging executive action to force public employees and employees of federal contractors to get vaccinated. He added that OSHA would issue an emergency rule requiring private employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccination or at least weekly testing.
His speech was very confusing for a few reasons. First, he said, “We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers.” Most Americans who received the vaccine thought protecting themselves from people who might be ill was the whole point—way to ding vaccine confidence.
Then Biden went on to reassure vaccinated Americans that their risk of a breakthrough infection was extremely low. With the current number of fully vaccinated Americans, if the 1:5000 statistic he quoted is accurate, 35,486 vaccinated Americans may experience a COVID-19 infection. Biden admitted that these types of infections are not generally serious, yet, somehow he thinks this is going to devastate the economy.
While there is a definite mismatch between the scope of the problem and the response, it serves one distinct purpose. This time last week, Biden was under bipartisan scrutiny for his mismanagement of the Afghanistan withdrawal. His approval rating was in freefall, with independents and Democrats abandoning him. So, he turned to COVID, although cases and deaths are declining nationally, and broke the country in half again.
The reaction from Republicans and right-leaning organizations was immediate resistance. Biden called out red-state governors when he said, “If these governors won’t help beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way.” Those governors had some thoughts. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem told President Biden she would see him in court. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to preserve patient choice and added the issue to the legislative special session agenda. After committing to taking legal action to fight the vaccine mandates on his official account, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tweeted from his personal account:
Joe Biden talks tougher to our nation’s governors than he does the Taliban. https://t.co/0CO103rSWV
— Brian Kemp (@BrianKempGA) September 9, 2021
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also announced plans to file a lawsuit.
Related: Mr. President, a Few Questions!
The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) already defends individuals from vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 regulations imposed by executive decree, such as the eviction moratoriums. Commenting on Biden’s actions, NCLA Executive director and general counsel Mark Chenoweth said, “By not exempting those who have naturally acquired immunity to COVID-19, the President’s plan is no more grounded in science or reason than the vast majority of state and local mandates that ignore the crucial role this type of immunity plays. The New Civil Liberties Alliance will not stand idly by while the federal government runs roughshod over Americans’ constitutional rights and civil liberties.”
Litigation counsel Jenin Younes from the NCLA added, “The Biden administration’s ill-conceived ‘Path out of the Pandemic’ plan vastly exceeds the powers the United States Constitution allots the executive branch. The federal government has no police power, and likewise no authority to force private employers of any size to mandate vaccines. It seems like the White House is trying to usurp legislative power that it does not have.”
Attorney and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro weighed in during an appearance on “Fox and Friends.” He confirmed Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing’s statement indicating the company would not enforce a vaccine mandate. Both Shapiro and Boreing have consistently promoted the vaccines as safe and effective. They have both taken it as well, but the company will still not enforce a mandate.
Shapiro said the provisions that Biden will cite under OSHA are wildly overbroad. He added, ” And frankly, I think he’s made a huge tactical legal blunder here. I think there is every possibility that something like this goes to the Supreme Court level. And suddenly, we see a complete rewriting of the administrative state because Joe Biden couldn’t get his act in order. So, he decided to issue a tyrannical and authoritarian order here.”
Civil rights attorney Harmeet Dillion agrees. She said she would be taking clients to file a lawsuit as soon as OSHA finalizes the regulations. Appearing on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with Jesse Waters, she indicated that COVID-19 might not meet the definition of an emergency under OSHA regulations. “OSHA is a very weird way to go about this. OSHA has an original set of regulations that were passed at the beginning of OSHA decades ago. Then it has some additional regulations that were passed after notice and comment,” Dillon said.
She added, “What he’s trying to do here is announce them under this very rarely used emergency provision. The emergency provision provides there has to be some kind of immediate, shocking, unusual threat to the workplace that’s dire, and there isn’t time to go through the normal process to do this. That’s obviously not the case here. We’ve been living with COVID for 18 months now. It’s not even a pandemic anymore. It’s an endemic. It’s something that we are living with.”
The pushback to Biden’s authoritarian and divisive speech was immediate and fierce. The Biden administration designed the orders to eclipse Afghanistan in the news cycle. Their strategy appears to be working—the brief flare of unity around getting Americans home from the terrorist nation will evaporate. It is difficult to believe that dividing Americans again was not entirely intentional.
WATCH Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing’s complete statement on Biden’s mandate: