Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden admitted this week that his proposed national mask mandate would likely be unconstitutional.
Biden has said repeatedly that if he is elected in November, one of the first policies he’d pass is a mandate requiring all Americans to wear face coverings while in public.
Critics on both sides of the aisle have reminded Biden that the executive does not have this authority, since the U.S. Constitution gives the individual states discretion over matters of health-related policy. But that didn’t deter Biden.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum,” Biden said in August. “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives.”
Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., approved of the mask mandate and declared that it is “what real leadership looks like.”
“We just witnessed real leadership. Which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months, because it will save lives,” she said.
When Biden formally accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination, he reiterated his call for a mask mandate, calling it a “patriotic duty.”
“We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask,” he said on Aug. 20, “not as a burden, but to protect each other.”
But when pressed on how he’d implement this policy, Biden admitted to Dennis Welch, the political editor of “Politics Unplugged,” that a national mask mandate would create a constitutional problem so he wouldn’t actually pass one.
“Here’s the deal, the federal government…there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate, I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden said.
“But I’d plead with…I carry my mask with me wherever I go,” the former vice president said. “I’d set an example.”
Biden now says a national mask mandate is probably unconstitutional and he wouldn’t do it.
This is a full 180-degree reversal. pic.twitter.com/cSxo6Q5LCD
— Alex Marlow (@AlexMarlow) September 7, 2020
“It’s about making sure the public is safe and secure, and that is a local decision, but there should be national standards laid out as to how it should be gone about,” Biden continued. “You can’t mandate that. But to set the example on what needs to be done.”