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Are the new government COVID-19 vaccine mandates legal?

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Some of you may wonder what grounds the president has to hand down vaccine mandates. We’ve known for a while that employers can require employees to get the shot but can the government?

To understand if this is allowed we’ve got to run it back to 1905. The U.S. was dealing with a different vaccine; one for Small Pox.

In Jacobson v. Massachusetts the Supreme Court ruled a vaccine mandate was constitutional. You’ll also need to remember that many other institutions like schools can require vaccines.

“From the state level, and if not at least from the local and school board level, has required vaccinations to attend public school for 40 or 50 years,” said David Hudson, Attorney with Hull Barrett.

Fast forward to 1970 where Congress passed the Occupational Safety Act. The act gives the Secretary of Labor the ability to oversee employers and make sure workplaces are safe.

“I don’t see a great difference between the mandate requirement and the other safety measures that the federal government has imposed in the workplace. In fact, the need for protection against this virus is far more compelling than the risk you might drop something heavy on your foot if you don’t have steel-toed boots,” he said.

While it will likely play out in court, the vaccine may become as standard as a hard hat or safety goggles.

We’re told if Governor Kemp decides to sue the case would be in federal court. We also spoke to a UGA political science professor who says it could swing either way.

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