This op-ed by SPN Senior Policy Advisor Michael Lucci first published at National Review.
Two weeks ago, President Biden hit a legal wall when the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reaffirmed and extended its stay on his Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) vaccine mandate. The OSHA mandate would require employers to ensure that their employees are either vaccinated or masked and regularly tested for COVID-19. In its decision to stay the mandate, the court cited the likelihood that the mandate exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority and violates the constitutional separation of powers. The court further called the policy as “a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer,” a description that could just as easily apply to Biden’s domestic agenda as a whole.
Overarching, centralized control makes for frail and inflexible governance. Whether or not Biden’s vaccine mandate is reversed in the courts, the legal battle over it ought to catalyze a swing in the pendulum of power away from Washington, D.C., and toward state capitols. Fortunately, excessive centralization can be healed through the decentralization that is explicitly encouraged by our federalist constitutional order. Forward-looking congressional policymakers should capture the momentum of decentralization and advance an agenda to devolve powers and responsibilities to the states and the people. And state leaders should do their part by embracing the new opportunities and responsibilities that decentralization offers them.