White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has a track record of providing spoiler alerts for the Biden administration’s coming authoritarian policies.
At a Monday press conference, Psaki once again played coy, while saying that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to a vaccine mandate for domestic travel.
In regards to an interstate travel, CNN’s Kaitlin Collins asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki: “Is he now considering mandating vaccinations to fly domestically?”
“Well, I think what you heard the President say — I think — it was hard to hear the question, so I think this was a question that was asked, but was that he wasn’t taking any options off the table, but he’s going to rely on that advice of his health and medical experts,” Psaki responded.
The problem with this response is the United States is designed to take government options “off the table.” The right to travel is implied by the Fifth Amendment, and has been upheld in numerous Supreme Court precedents. It is also widely recognized as a fundamental human right. (It is unclear why U.S. cities have not been sued for issuing ‘vaccine passports’ on such grounds.)
There have been numerous signs that the Biden administration is poised to issue a vaccine mandate for interstate travel, even though it would be blatantly unconstitutional.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief of the NIAID and Biden’s top medical adviser, is typically the messenger the administration sends out to prime the public for extreme Covid measures. Fauci earlier supported a vaccine mandate for interstate travel.
“I would support that. If you want to get on a plane and travel, then you should be vaccinated,” Fauci said in an interview on the Skimm This podcast in mid-September.
“Fauci later clarified to say that the Biden administration is not extending its vaccine mandate to travel just yet, although it is under consideration,” NPR noted.
Dr. Zeke Emanuel also supports the draconian practice in an editorial titled, “Biden’s vaccine mandates are not enough. He must also mandate vaccines for travel.”
“To overcome covid-19, at least 80 percent of Americans need to be vaccinated,” Emanuel co-wrote in a Washington Post editorial with Cornell professor John P. Moore. “We are now at 54 percent. Voluntary efforts have proved to be insufficient. It is inevitable we will need another mandate — this time for domestic travel by planes, trains and buses.”
Former President Obama’s Transportation Secretary also threw his backing behind the authoritarian mandates.
“The man who ran former President Barack Obama’s Department of Transportation thinks President Joe Biden is going too soft on airlines and airline travelers as part of the government’s efforts to get the pandemic under control,” Politico reported.
“Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the White House should push airlines to put a vaccine mandate on airline travelers in place,” the report continued. “If the airlines refuse, LaHood said, the White House should do it itself. What’s more, he contends it wouldn’t be a heavy lift operationally.”
“I don’t think it would be difficult at all. It’s no different than showing your driver’s license to TSA,” LaHood said in an interview. “I don’t see it as a bureaucratic challenge to the airlines. I really don’t. You got to show ID in order to get through TSA, then make it a part of getting through TSA — that you can’t get through TSA unless you show proper identification, your ticket and a vaccination card.”
However, such burdens on interstate travel clearly violate the U.S. Constitution’s “freedom of travel,” which has been widely recognized in the nation’s federal courts.
“In Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116 (1958), the United States Secretary of State had refused to issue a passport to an American citizen based on the suspicion that the plaintiff was going abroad to promote communism (personal restrictions/national security),” Wikipedia summarized. “Although the Court did not reach the question of constitutionality in this case, the Court, in an opinion by Justice William O. Douglas, held that the federal government may not restrict the right to travel without due process”:
The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment. If that “liberty” is to be regulated, it must be pursuant to the law-making functions of the Congress. . . . . Freedom of movement across frontiers in either direction, and inside frontiers as well, was a part of our heritage. Travel abroad, like travel within the country, . . . may be as close to the heart of the individual as the choice of what he eats, or wears, or reads. Freedom of movement is basic in our scheme of values.
The Legal Information Institute also provides background on the “freedom of travel.”
The doctrine of the “right to travel” actually encompasses three separate rights, of which two have been notable for the uncertainty of their textual support. The first is the right of a citizen to move freely between states, a right venerable for its longevity, but still lacking a clear doctrinal basis. The second, expressly addressed by the first sentence of Article IV, provides a citizen of one state who is temporarily visiting another state the “Privileges and Immunities” of a citizen of the latter state. The third is the right of a new arrival to a state, who establishes citizenship in that state, to enjoy the same rights and benefits as other state citizens. This right is most often invoked in challenges to durational residency requirements, which require that persons reside in a state for a specified period of time before taking advantage of the benefits of that state’s citizenship.
Furthermore, vaccine passports would be an unnecessary and onerous burden that would fall disproportionately on minorities and underprivileged. The World Health Organizations has advised against ‘vaccine passports.’
“We have long been advising against using covid vaccination passports for international travel due to non-equitable availability and need for robust evidence for prevention of virus transmission post-vaccination. We have issued the latest interim guidance to all member states,” WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan told Mint.
The Biden administration has lied repeatedly about federal vaccine mandates. President Biden, Jen Psaki, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky have all made statements indicating that federal mandates were likely unconstitutional, unethical, or not the role of government.
Furthermore, the U.S. courts have been hammering the federal vaccine mandates. A new district court injunction against the vaccine mandate for Medicare and Medicaid authorized providers was just issued on Monday.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.