Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's vaccine mandate ban won't make airlines or other large businesses drop their plans, legal experts say

·2 min read
greg abbott texas
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Reuters/Lucas Jackson
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday banning vaccine mandates in the state.

  • Legal experts told Insider the order is unlikely to have an impact on large businesses that will have to comply with a proposed federal vaccine mandate.

  • Law professor Dale Carpenter called Abbott's order "more of a political statement than a legal statement."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order banning vaccine mandates in the state is unlikely to have much of an impact on large businesses looking to require their employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, legal experts told Insider.

After the Republican governor's executive order was announced on Monday, Insider spoke to legal experts at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the University of Houston who said that President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for large businesses will supersede Abbott's order as soon as it becomes official.

Biden announced last month that the Department of Labor was developing a rule to require companies with more than 100 employees to have their workers get vaccinated or face weekly testing.

The president also signed an executive order requiring all federal executive branch employees to be vaccinated, as well as federal contractors and their employees.

Dale Carpenter, a law professor at SMU, said that he expects companies that have already started making their employees get vaccinated will continue to do so, because the Biden administration's proposed mandate will eventually "preempt" Abbott's order.

Carpenter called Abbott's order "more of a political statement than a legal statement."

"Ultimately, I don't think it will have a real legal effect," he said of Abbott's executive order.

Abbott's order raises specific questions about Texas-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, since both are government contractors that fall under the purview of Biden's vaccine mandate executive order. American is giving employees until November 24 to get vaccinated or face termination. Both airlines issued statements on Tuesday saying they wouldn't be calling off their mandate plans, according to Reuters.

"According to the president's executive order, federal action supersedes any state mandate or law, and we would be expected to comply with the president's order to remain compliant as a federal contractor," the Southwest statement, obtained by Insider, read.

David Crump, a law professor at the University of Houston, said airlines have the power to ignore the state mandate because it's trumped by the federal order.

"The supremacy clause to the Constitution says that federal law is the 'supreme' law of the land, and state laws give way to it," Crump said. "The state mandate is of no effect in that case."

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