Texas ban on vaccine mandates: Where can the order go from here?

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation Now) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is taking on the federal government with a new ban on vaccine mandates.

Abbott issued an executive order Monday that prohibits all entities, including private businesses, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers. 

The move comes as the Biden administration is set to require employers with more than 100 workers to make sure their staff is vaccinated or tested weekly.

Constitutional law expert Josh Blackman said during an appearance on Monday’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert” that this new order from Abbott could go several ways in court. 

“Texas attorney general would actually be able to challenge the employer mandate in court,” Blackman noted. He said since the order only applies to a Texas entity, a California company that employs people in Texas could have a vaccine mandate in place under state law. He said this in turn “creates a lot of confusion; it’s still not clear how this will actually be enforced.”

Blackman also said between the federal law and the state law, the federal law should always preempt the state law. However, the Labor Department is still working out the kinks for Biden’s federal vaccine mandate.

Jessica Montoya Coggins, features and opinion editor for the “Texas Signal,” also joined “On Balance” on Tuesday. She believes Abbott’s mandate is a political move. 

“This is essentially sort of a piece of red meat that he can throw to the base, one that is very powerful in Texas,” she said. Coggins said that according to the state’s COVID-19 project, about 65% of Texans actually support a vaccine mandate in some capacity, whether that’s federal, state or local.

Abbott, the two-term Republican, is facing pressure on the right from two candidates in next year’s GOP primary: former state Sen. Don Huffines and former Florida congressman and Texas state party chairman Allen West. Both have attacked Abbott’s COVID-19 policies and have strongly opposed vaccine mandates.

Coggins also noted Abbott’s job performance rating isn’t doing well. According to polling from Quinnipiac University, only 44% of Texans approve of Abbott’s work as governor while 47% disapprove.

“These are tough times for him. The majority of Texans right now do not support the way he has handled COVID-19. You have to remember in our state, the Delta variant was very detrimental these last couple of months. It was very harrowing for many places.”

“Eventually, Biden will impose his federal mandate, but it’s not by statutes by executive order.” However, Blackman said Biden is overreaching into an area of the states that are trying to regulate on their own.

“The states are enacting these sorts of policies … on their own right.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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