President Joe Biden signed a national mask mandate executive order. While constitutional law experts believe this is technically possible and legal, the newly-installed Democratic president’s definition of “national” will have to be a very narrow one, unless he’s willing to fight for it in the Supreme Court.
Immediately after his inauguration, Biden signed 15 executive orders and two executive actions. One of his executive orders mandated the wearing of face masks for people who are on federal property and federal lands.
“I thought there’s no time to wait,” Biden told reporters while sitting at the Resolute Desk. “Get to work immediately.”
The executive order, called the “100 Days Masking Challenge,” directs federal agencies to comply with the guidelines put forward by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the wearing of face masks, as well as social distancing regulations.
This order will apply to everyone inside federal buildings and on federal land. It even includes soldiers in military bases, who are now required to wear face coverings wherever they go and are not allowed to stand closer than six feet with others in public areas and work centers. The mandate will also apply to people traveling between states.
No other president has signed so many executive orders on their first day in office. Former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump signed one order each, while Barack Obama didn’t sign any on his first day.
Some of his other orders include ceasing Trump’s initial order to withdraw the country from the World Health Organization, rejoining the Paris climate accord, reversing a travel ban and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
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Biden will be unable to expand his mask mandate any further
According to Constitutional law experts, Biden can easily sign a national mask mandate. However, this mandate will have a very narrow definition of the word “national.”
According to Dr. Mark Graber from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, the current mask mandate Biden passed is as broad as it will ever be.
“The only places where there’s any controversy are places the federal government doesn’t own,” said Graber, who believes that Biden will face serious legal challenges if he tries to enforce his mask mandate on state and local property, private businesses and homes. (Related: Biden wants to enact a national mask mandate, but has no legal authority to enforce such an order.)
“There is some law that says in fact, you can broaden [the mask mandate] to cover everything,” explained Graber. “But a majority of the Supreme Court would likely reject that.”
While Biden has directed his administration to work with state and local authorities to enact their own sweeping mask mandates, it looks likely that this is as far as the Constitution will allow the newly-inaugurated president to reach in terms of his federal mask order.
Biden breaks his own mask mandate immediately after signing it
While Biden was signing his mask mandate, he was wearing a face mask. However, his subsequent appearances featured him without a mask on.
Ryan Saavedra, a journalist for alternative news outlet Daily Wire, reported that Biden spent some time at the Lincoln Memorial after his inauguration, and during this whole time he was not wearing a face mask despite his insistence that others do so while they are on federal property.
Furthermore, Biden later addressed members of the press – all of whom were wearing masks – while he continued to not wear a mask.
Biden also took to social media to pat himself on the back for signing the mask mandate. On his official Twitter account, he said:
“Wearing masks isn’t a partisan issue – it’s a patriotic act that can save countless lives. That’s why I signed an executive order today issuing a mask mandate on federal property. It’s time to mask up, America.
Meanwhile, several members of the Biden family followed in their patriarch’s footsteps by also refusing to wear masks on federal property. According to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Epstein, Biden’s daughter Ashley joined several of his grandchildren as they took off their masks for a short photoshoot at the Lincoln Memorial.
Prominent conservative personalities pointed out Biden’s hypocrisy on social media.
“Does Joe Biden’s new executive order mandating masks on federal property not apply to Joe Biden while he’s on federal property?” asked Charlie Kirk, founder of conservative organization Turn Point USA. “Because here he is at the Lincoln Memorial with no mask just hours after signing it.”
“He wants to be just like the other double standard, Democrat lawmakers,” replied first-term Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
Learn more about how Biden and the Democratic Party are attempting to use the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to justify enacting mask mandates by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.