President Joe Biden is “checking” to see whether he has the power to overrule state governors and institute a national mask mandate for school-aged children, according to a report in the New York Post.
Biden, fresh off of the decision to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reinstate an eviction moratorium, despite Supreme Court guidance indicating that the legislature, not the CDC, should be responsible for such a measure, may be looking to take similar initiative with mask mandates.
A measure requiring universal masking in educational institutions would specifically target states like Texas and Florida, whose Republican governors — Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, respectively — have outlawed universal masking mandates, giving parents the power to make decisions on masking, rather than local governments and school districts.
“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,” the Post reported Wednesday.
“I don’t believe that I do, thus far,” Biden told reporters, referencing whether he had the “power” to overrule state governors. “We’re checking that.”
The White House relied on legal advice from far-left Constitutional lawyer and Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe when addressing the CDC eviction moratorium. Although the Supreme Court was explicit in noting that Congress, and not a government agency, should set housing policy, the Biden administration was ultimately convinced that a CDC moratorium could sustain a legal challenge.
Biden later expressed some reservations about the decision, as the Daily Wire reported Friday, telling reporters that even if the moratorium became mired in litigation, the appeals process would afford the federal government — and renters — a month-long reprieve.
On Monday, a federal judge suggested “that the Biden administration was engaging in legal ‘gamesmanship’ in order to resurrect a pandemic-related eviction ban despite an indication from the Supreme Court that the measure was unlawful,” according to Politico.
Biden himself has chosen to be at odds with DeSantis, chastizing the Florida governor for his approach to COVID-19 mitigation measures, telling DeSantis to “get out of the way” of stringent COVID-19-related mandates, including a recent CDC recommendation that all individuals in educational settings be masked.
“When I suggest that people, in zones where there is a high risk, wear the masks like you all are doing, I’m told that government should get out of the way and not do that, they don’t have the authority to do that,” Biden said. “And I find it interesting that some of the very people who are saying that, who hold government positions, are people who are threatening that if a school teacher asks a student if they’ve been vaccinated, or if a principal says that ‘everyone in my school should wear a mask,’ or the school board votes for it, that governor will nullify that.”
DeSantis snapped back at the president, explaining that if Biden is “coming after the rights in Florida, I am standing in your way.”
“Why don’t you do your job? Why don’t you get this border secure? And until you do this, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you,” DeSantis fired back.
DeSantis has been clear that he will protect parents’ rights to make COVID-19-related decisions in his state.