Gov. Spencer Cox said Monday he believes President Joe Biden’s vaccine or testing mandate for private-sector employees is unconstitutional.
Last week, Biden announced sweeping new vaccine requirements, including a mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require vaccinations or weekly testing to slow the spread of COVID-19. Biden also said 80 million federal employees would also be required to be vaccinated, without any option to be tested instead.
“This is something we haven’t seen before. Certainly, there is the ability for the government to mandate vaccines. But when presidents are usurping the role of Congress, as a governor I would love to be able to do whatever I want to do, but that’s not how it works. You have to do it the right way,” Cox said during an interview on Fox Business Network.
Cox’s Monday statement is slightly more forceful than the position he took last week when he said he had “serious questions about the legality of the order.”
Cox is the latest Republican governor to speak out against Biden’s vaccine mandate.
Biden’s vaccine requirements have not been well received well Utah political leaders. Sen. Mike Lee called Biden a “would-be autocrat” and said he had “a wanton disregard for the U.S. Constitution.” Attorney General Sean Reyes said his office was prepared to fight back against the mandate.
Cox likened Biden’s decision to his recent move to extend the nationwide eviction moratorium when Congress did not hold a vote. The Supreme Court stepped in and ended the extension ruling Biden did not have that authority.
“It’s this kind of end justifies the means if they think it’s the right policy, that it doesn’t matter what the law says or the Constitution says. That’s so dangerous. We can’t have that. That’s why governors push back and why we’ll continue to push back,” Cox said.
Reyes’ office told The Tribune that they were still studying the situation, but nothing had changed since last week.
“The issue is under review,” Jennifer Napier-Pearce, Gov. Cox’s spokesperson, said in a text message.
Cox was quick to point out he was not opposed to vaccinations to stop the spread of the virus. But he stressed he disagreed with how the White House was pursuing that goal.
“You won’t find a governor out there that has been more supportive of the effort to get people vaccinated. It’s so important. We desperately need more people vaccinated to get out the crisis,” Cox said.
More than 4,200 Utahns tested positive for COVID-19 over the past three days — state officials reported Monday, and more than 900 of them were school-age children. Sixteen more Utahns died of the coronavirus in the same period.