The Abbott Test


There has been a growing tug of war between the states and the federal government as it relates to vaccine mandates. Now, this war is quickly coming to a head, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is opening a new front in the war over vaccine mandates, setting up a showdown with the Biden administration.

Yesterday, Abbot issued an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any “entity in Texas,” including private businesses. That order conflicts with a forthcoming federal regulation announced by Joe Biden to require that businesses with 100 or more employees force their workers to be vaccinated or get tested weekly. l

“In yet another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates,” Abbott wrote in the order. 

Similar moves have been made by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who like Abbott has also pushed back on local mask mandates and vaccine passports. DeSantis today floated the idea of a similar move against vaccine mandates in his state, though he said it would likely require the state legislature to act.

“I think you need a law to be able to just say you shouldn’t be terminated for this reason,” DeSantis said.

The White House quickly pushed back against both governors, saying it would continue with implementation of the federal regulation. And it does so with the confidence that the public is on their side.

A Gallup poll last month found that 58% of the public supports vaccine mandates for businesses with 100 or more workers, with 42% opposed. And polling related directly to Joe Biden suggests that he has more support for his covid policies than any other issue, although he still suffers a 2-point deficit in that area.

Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott has his own political calculus with which to contend. His latest move comes as he is facing two primary challengers from his right in Don Huffines, a former state senator, and Allen West, a former congressman. Abbott cannot afford to make any RINO moves, as it were, as both Huffins and West pose a serious threat to his power within the party.

It’s for that reason one must wonder whether Abbott’s order is designed to fail, meaning it gives him a way of saying he’s doing something but being impeded by the courts. DeSantis, who is on much sturdier political ground in his own state, was forthright in his reasoning that there would need to be actual legislation for such a ban to survive. Abbott doesn’t have the time nor inclination to make a nuanced legal argument about how to proceed. He doesn’t want to go to the state legislature to seek something with more legal teeth than an executive order. Not when he can simply write an order which he knows will face a serious legal challenge and claim liberal obstruction.

Sadly, though, not even codification by the Texas Legislature would give Abbott a failproof hand, as the Biden administration’s pro-mandate regulation could preempt and supersede the Texas law under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. Of course, Biden’s mandate has not been codified, either, so the courts would definitely have to sort this out and opinions differ on the likely outcome.

As for private industry, they’re continuing on as if Abbott has done nothing. Already, two major airlines based in Texas, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, said today they would continue with their vaccine mandates for employees. Of course, that could change if mandates continue to cause work shortages that affect the bottom line, as we saw with Southwest this weekend.


Bottom Line


Gov. Abbott’s order isn’t likely to change the minds of airlines and/or other businesses enforcing mandates. The truth is, it could be too late for Abbott regardless of what he does. The Left aren’t going to support anything short of full tyranny. Meanwhile, many on the Right are unhappy that Texas was ever closed to begin with, as the effects are still being felt in our lagging economy and the lockdowns never really worked anyway.

Regardless of Abbott’s future, though, the bottom line remains that change will have to come from the bottom up rather than the top down. The People themselves must make life hard for those who would erect unreasonable gateways to employment.

And perhaps that’s how it should be.







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