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Opinion: We urge Gov. Cox to reject the president’s vaccine mandate

Utah’s legislative leaders believe Biden’s order is illegal, and they want Attorney General Sean Reyes to pursue possible legal action.

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House.
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, on Sept. 9, 2021. Utah’s legislative leaders are urging the governor to reject Biden’s vaccine mandate for private businesses.
Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

Masked by the threat of the pandemic, President Joe Biden tried to slip one past us all late last week. It won’t work.

The president’s unilateral decision to leverage American businesses by ordering them to mandate vaccinations of their employees as a condition of employment grossly exceeds his authority and ranks among the most egregious power grabs in American political history. As elected officials, we cannot turn a blind eye as Mr. Biden ignores the fundamental separation of powers and steamrolls individual liberty.

Earlier this week, we jointly drafted a letter to Gov. Spencer Cox, urging him to reject the president’s order. We expressed our willingness to work with him to implement practical policies encouraging Utahns to choose vaccinations within the established bounds of the law. We have also requested that Attorney General Sean Reyes work with other states to pursue appropriate legal avenues to block President Biden’s mandate.

While Utah businesses may implement vaccination requirements, it is wholly inappropriate for the federal government to mandate that they do so. Simply falling in line as any president — regardless of his political affiliation — places such undue burden on business would set a dangerous precedent and jeopardize civil liberties.

Despite the many challenges the pandemic presents, the end does not justify the means. We strongly support the vaccination effort. The evidence clearly shows vaccines are the most effective weapon in our collective battle against COVID-19 and its variants.

As we work to reduce the strain on our hospitals and healthcare personnel, reduce transmission, and save lives, we encourage all Utahns to carefully consider the benefits of vaccination with their trusted health care providers. However, we must let individuals and private businesses choose for themselves and assume responsibility for their individual actions.

Some politicians hate to let a good crisis go to waste. Cloaking a power grab in an N-95 mask won’t hide the fact that the president is reaching beyond his prescribed authority. In doing so, he has exacerbated rifts in our nation and further divided the American people when we need unity. But that unity is only powerful when it comes within our system of government, not the one we left behind nearly 250 years ago.

Stuart Adams is the president of the Utah Senate and Brad Wilson is the speaker of the Utah House of Representatives.