Is a COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Federal Employees Constitutional?

vaccine mandate: constitutional or unconstitutional

As people have been trying to tame the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine mandates have become more of a hot-button topic. President Joe Biden has recently introduced a mandate for all federal employees and all businesses over 100 employees, requiring that people get vaccinated to try and stop the spread of COVID-19. However, others may not know whether this is constitutional, especially with misinformation everywhere. Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

1. What Is a Vaccine Mandate?

First and foremost, what is a mandate in the first place? The federal mandate requires that anyone working for the federal government or working for a business with over 100 employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. Individual state mandates may require vaccination to attend large gatherings, to go out to sports events, or for other reasons. It’s important to remember that vaccine mandates are not vaccine compulsions; no one is going to hold someone down and forcibly vaccinate them. It’s simply a safety requirement for people to get back to the way things used to be.

2. What Is the Previous Case Law?

There is case law that would pretty directly impact the federal vaccine mandate. Specifically, the case law revolves around a 1905 case of a man who refused to pay the fine for a smallpox vaccine mandate. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court decided that “in every well-ordered society […] the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.” The case law is pretty clear—personal liberty doesn’t trump public safety.

3. Are There Exemptions Available?

For the federal vaccine mandate, there are exceptions for medical or religious reasons. However, companies are also within their rights to require regular COVID-19 testing for anyone who has taken the exemption, and those who do take the exemption need to prove that they have sincerely held religious beliefs against vaccination. The exemption case has never made it to the Supreme Court, so there is no case law about whether religious exemptions are truly a legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.

4. Have There Been Any Legal Challenges?

There are plenty of legal challenges gearing up all over the country about both vaccine mandates and laws that prohibit vaccine mandates. Currently, none of those challenges have made it to the Supreme Court, which means there are no Supreme Court rulings on mandates. As things move forward, however, it’s likely that there will be more and more legal rulings, and eventually, the Supreme Court is likely to hear one.

5. How Can I Stay Up to Date?

The best option for you to know more about vaccine mandates is to stay up to date on the current information. The PeopleFinders blog has a News section that regularly includes updates about COVID-19 in the United States and the world at large, giving you more information about COVID-19 and other things occurring in the world. Staying up to date and getting vaccinated before a mandate even goes into effect can be a good way to stay safe.


Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is in place because there are no Supreme Court stays indicating that it may be unconstitutional. Until the Supreme Court chooses to hear a case about it, it’s a good idea to assume that it will be eventually upheld. Getting vaccinated is a good way to stay safe and keep other people around you safe, and it’s likely where these laws will end up pointing.

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