As President Joe Biden launches via executive order a sweeping vaccine mandate for all federal government workers, and now a brand-new initiative for private sector mandates, the issue has once again risen to the forefront of the national dialogue. United Airlines, for example, recently became the first U.S. airline to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all its employees. United Airlines’ mandate takes effect on Sept. 27, and it might augur a broader trend: A poll conducted last month by insurance and advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, for example, suggests that 52% of private sector employers surveyed expect to have a workplace vaccine mandate by the end of 2021. As Biden’s brand-new announcement of a Department of Labor rule for private sector vaccination requirement now makes clear, that poll was prescient.
Against this backdrop, several Republican-leaning states have advanced laws or executive orders that prohibit private sector vaccine mandates for employees, customers or in some other respect. That tally is now at least eight states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Texas, South Carolina and South Dakota. The legal mechanics and specifics differ from state to state. But the highest-profile and most mechanically straightforward Republican-led assault on vaccine mandates is the one in