Can the president assign face masks? – FindLaw


Wilmington, Delaware - November 16: US President-elect Joe Biden looks at a press conference at Queen's Theater on November 16, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Mr. Biden and his advisers continue to work on the long-term economic recovery plan his administration will try to implement when he takes office.  (Photo by Joe Riedel / Getty Images)

Several times during his campaign this year, President-elect Joe Biden has said he favors a national mandate that requires people to wear face masks in public places to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Now that he is ready to take office on January 20, can we assume that masks will be needed everywhere?

In a word no. Only the rulers have the power to issue this type of system, not the chiefs.

This explains the wording of the masked mandate appearing in Biden’s transition team website Clarifies how the new administration intends to tackle the pandemic. The site calls for “nationwide mask authorizations” to be implemented, but says Biden intends to achieve this by “working with governors and mayors and asking the American people to do the best they can: escalation in a time of crisis.”

The “soft power” of the presidency

In other words, Biden intends to rely mostly on the soft power of his bully’s pulpit to get people to wear masks when in public.

But is there more he can do? The answer is yes.

Presidents have the power to issue executive orders covering federal lands and federal buildings, and Biden has said he will need face masks there.

Biden also said in a speech in October that he intends to enforce masks on interstate public transport. A month ago, the CDC issued a draft order to order masks on all planes, trains, buses, and subways, as well as in all transportation hubs, such as airports, bus depots and train stations.

The Trump administration rejected this suggestion, but Biden appears to be intending to follow it. But some legal observers Question the constitutionality From CDC make that a general rule.

Another option is economic incentives, which can be included in your next spending bill.

Public Health Service Law

The remote possibility is to gain support for a liberal interpretation of Submit In the Public Health Services Act, which it can be said can pave the way for a national mask mandate. This provision that Congressional Research Service “It can form the basis of executive action,” he says, giving the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to issue regulations to prevent the spread of infectious diseases from foreign countries to the United States or from one country to another.

Could this provision be used to enforce face masks? The Congressional Research Service appears skeptical. CRS said the federal government can expect legal challenges, regardless of which interpretation it chooses.

So, as we move forward through an alarming winter and the specter of more COVID-19 deaths – and more lockdowns – look to Biden to do everything in his power to get Americans to hide. But don’t look for a federal mandate.

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