Biden "checking" to see if he has the power to mandate masks in all schools

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Yesterday, Allahpundit looked at some of the options the White House is considering in terms of how to thwart Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates for schools. The same situation will likely roll over to Texas in the near future. Currently, DeSantis is threatening to cut funding for any schools that move forward with a mask mandate for students, so the first option Joe Biden suggested was the possibility of making federal funding available to make up for the lost money.

It would appear that the funding idea may be hitting a dead end, but that’s not the only option on the table. Now Biden is reportedly considering issuing his own federal mask mandate for schools, overriding the executive orders issued by DeSantis and other GOP governors. Does he actually have the authority to do that? Even the President admitted to reporters that he probably doesn’t. But he might just go ahead and do it anyway. (NY Post)

President Biden said Tuesday that his administration is examining whether he can order universal masking in public schools, overriding Republican governors in states like Florida and Texas.

“I don’t believe that I do [have that power], thus far,” Biden told reporters during an event in the East Room of the White House. “We’re checking that.”

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended masking for all students, faculty, staff and visitors in K-12 schools last month due to the spread of the Delta variant.

This could quickly turn into yet another case of Joe Biden doing something that he knows is illegal or at least outside of his executive authority, counting on the inevitable court challenges to allow him to get his way until the crisis has largely passed. It’s the same tactic he used with the eviction moratorium.

The argument made during the press briefing was disingenuous at best. He claimed that “some governors” (meaning DeSantis without saying his name) are saying that government should “get out of the way” in terms of mask mandates, but if a school wants to demand proof of vaccination or require masks, they “will nullify that.”

The problem is that DeSantis hasn’t taken the position that local governments or schools boards should make the call on such mandates. He’s consistently said that masking and vaccinations are decisions that the parents should make for their children. Neither DeSantis nor Greg Abbott has suggested imposing a ban on masks or vaccinations. Everyone should be free to get the shot or put on a mask if they wish. They just don’t want the schools overriding the decisions made by the parents.

As we’ve noted here previously, there is no court precedent to guide us as to whether or not a federal executive order could be applied to public school policy across the entire country. That’s because nobody has ever tried it before so there has been nothing to challenge. If Biden tries this he could be breaking entirely new legal ground. And as I already mentioned, all he has to do is get his executive order to last long enough for the Delta variant surge to die down and he could rescind the order with a quick “nevermind,” without the Emily Litella voice.

Exit question: What ever happened to the promise of a return to normality after the “lawless regime” of Donald Trump? I’d swear somebody told me something like that earlier this year.