May 8, 2022

During the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time, a significant minority of states passed laws limiting or outright prohibiting vaccines mandates. The laws varied greatly in what they covered, the way they addressed the issue, and their intended results. This Article provides a detailed overview of these mandate bans. Consequently, this Article demonstrates that most of the bans target potential vaccine mandates limiting access to government buildings and services—and points out that no states adopted such mandates. That said, a growing sub-set of states also adopted laws or executive orders prohibiting private actors from imposing mandates—either on customers or on employees. These prohibitions are unusual in several ways, but one way is upending the usual political approaches, with Republican politicians supporting measures that limit individual business rights and Democrat politicians ranging themselves on the side of business rights. Other measures limit the ability of universities to mandate vaccines or preempt local governments from doing so. This Article is largely descriptive but argues that the main driver in enacting these laws and executive orders was the politicization of the pandemic rather than the direct efforts of the anti-vaccine movement. The laws were largely driven by mainstream politicians, not traditional anti-vaccine activists.

Author: Dorit Rubinstein Reiss


Volume 23, Issue 4