Law prof: Vaccine mandates OK under enumerated powers

Coronavirus

States don't have to help feds enforce a mandate

PORTLAND, Ore, (KOIN) — Where does the ability to order a vaccine mandate come from? The answer is enumerated powers, that is, powers specifically given to the government in the US Constitution, including the power to regulate commerce.

That’s what Lewis & Clark law professor Tung Yin said. But he also said a state does have a defense against any mandate handed down from the federal government.

The enumerated powers are spelled out in Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution.

“The key distinction here is the federal government can issue its rules. It cannot force the states to enforce federal law. What it can expect is the states will not interfere,” Yin told KOIN 6 News. “If the federal government sent the FBI in to, like, check up on people’s vaccination records, and the state ordered its own police to stand in the way of the FBI, that would be obstructing federal efforts.”

Oregon, he said, has and does stand up to the federal government. One example is the fact that Oregon is a sanctuary state for immigrants.

States don’t have to lift a finger to enforce a federal mandate of any kind. But they are expected not to interfere if the federal government comes and takes matters into their own hands.

“But simply saying for the state to say, ‘we’re not going to lift a finger to help you federal government enforce, whatever it is that you have in mind’ is perfectly fine,” he said.

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