Mid-South governors, lawyers react to President Biden’s new vaccine mandates

MID-SOUTH — President Joe Biden said more aggressive measures must be taken to keep children in schools and protecting them from COVID-19.

During a speech on Thursday, the president called for governors to require the vaccine for all school employees and for districts to implement regular testing for students and staff.

RELATED: ‘We’re in a tough stretch’: Biden announces new COVID-19 mandates for millions of Americans

Moments after Biden’s speech, some Mid-South Governors released statements on Twitter about the new plans.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said the President has “no authority to require that Americans inject themselves because of their employment at a private business.” Reeves also went to say on the vaccine itself is “life-saving, but this unconstitutional move is terrifying.”

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson also took to Twitter and released a statement following Biden’s new plans. He said he fully supports efforts to increase vaccination rates, but the federal government mandates on private businesses are “not the right answer.”

Finally, Governor of Tennessee Bill Lee also released a statement on Twitter after President Biden’s speech. He said the vaccine is the best tool to combat the pandemic, but “heavy-handed mandates are the wrong approach.” Gov. Lee said he will “stand up for all Tennesseans” when it comes to the Constitution and the mandate of the vaccines.

The Libertarian Party of Tennessee also released a statement following Biden’s ruling. The full quote is below:

“It’s one thing for the federal government to require its own employees to be vaccinated, but mandating vaccinations for 80 million people who work in the private sector is a giant abuse of government authority. The feds should not have this power,” said Dave Jones, LPTN Chair. “We can’t throw out Constitutional protections when we need them most. Any edict that forces companies to fire certain groups of people – whatever the criteria – is the work of a tyrant. We earnestly encourage all localities – state, county, or municipality – to push back against the policy. In addition, we support all companies that speak up against the program or reject it outright.

“We also encourage our Tennessee Assembly to pass HB1229 and SB1163 that ‘Authorizes the joint government operations committee of the general assembly to review an executive order issued by the president of the United States if the order has not been affirmed by a vote of the congress of the United States and signed into law as prescribed by the Constitution of the United States.’”

Alan Crone, an employment lawyer in Memphis said the Department of Labor, is able to issue rules like these, but under very limited circumstances.

“The department of labor has to prove two things,” he said. “That there is a dangerous, hazard, toxic substance in a workplace, and that this particular remedy, in other words the vaccine mandate, is needed to protect the health and safety of employees,” Crone said.

Crone said it’s been almost 40 years since the Department of Labor tried issuing such a rule.

This time around, he expects pushback.

“I think this is a very creative way to try to encourage a large number of people to get vaccinated, but I’m not sure that ultimately it will be successful in the courts,” Crone said.

If it does hold up in the courts, Crone said the rule will last six months and then the Department of Labor will have to issue another one to make it permanent.

Crone expects employers affected to give their employees a certain date they have to get their vaccine by.