(June 8) Alabama, Florida, and other states are on dangerous constitutional ground by passing laws forbidding private businesses to require proof of coronavirus vaccination for entrance to their premises.

If challenged by business owners with proper standing and competent legal counsel, at least some parts of those laws will surely be overturned.

For some reason, many conservatives, who in every other situation would man the ramparts for the rights of private businesses, have completely lost their philosophical and constitutional moorings because of their weird new anti-vax ideology. Yet this isn’t even a close call: Of course a private business can protect its workers and customers from a pandemic (and protect itself against lawsuits by people who may claim they caught the virus at their premises) by asking for assurance that individual customers aren’t contagious.

Governor Kay Ivey

Restaurants can post and enforce rules saying, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Private colleges can require measles and chickenpox vaccinations for entry. A gift shop can see someone hacking, coughing, and sweating profusely and demand that person remain outside. Heck, a grocery store, if it were willing to limit its business in such a way, is perfectly free to insist that only U.S. armed services veterans can enter.

As long as the private business is not a public accommodation invidiously discriminating against a particular legally protected class of people, and as long as it abides by all other laws (taxes, hygiene, zoning, etc.), it can impose just about any restrictions it wants. That’s what free enterprise means. That’s what constitutional freedom entails.

The ordinary remedy for unwise choices by business owners is for customers to patronize that business’ competitors instead. This is a simple free-market concept. This is a principle that always has animated conservatives especially. [The rest of this column can be found right here.]


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