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Parson: Biden administration does not have the right to mandate vaccines

Gov. Mike Parson has vowed to fight the Biden administration’s proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates, arguing they are an unprecedented exercise of power by the federal government. 

Parson signed an executive order barring any entity within the executive branch of the state government from compelling individuals to get the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of federal mandates, if the person objects because of medical or religious reasons. Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration the following day, co-leading a 10 state coalition opposing the proposed mandate.

“The federal government does not have the right under the Constitution to do any sort of mandates on the state levels to state citizens,” Parson said. “It’s never been done before, and then when you try to go to [Occupational and Safety Health Administration], there’s nobody in this country that doesn’t understand that that’s a far reach of how you’re going to try to implement something.”

Parson said his administration’s two biggest goals in the lawsuit were to get it before “the right court” and put a stay on the mandate long enough to fight it. 

Parson appeared on Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” to discuss the possibility of St. Louis getting an NFL expansion team, the Missouri School Boards’ Association’s withdrawal from the national organization, and the investigation into a reporter’s discovery of a vulnerability on the education department’s website. 

The Republican executive also discussed Kevin Strickland’s case and the call for his release. 

Strickland was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a 1978 triple homicide. The case largely hinged on testimony from a witness who named Strickland in the case but later recanted her testimony. Two other men who pleaded guilty to their involvement in the killings also said Strickland was innocent. 

Strickland has received support from the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office in his petition for freedom, but the Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear the case over the summer. 

While advocates — including state legislators and Congresswoman Cori Bush — have called on Parson to free Strickland, the governor said the county that prosecuted him should “have the first stake” in the case. He pointed to a new state law that allows prosecuting or circuit attorneys the ability to file a motion to vacate a judgment if new information comes to light. 

“Somebody’s got to take responsibility one way or the other on this: Are you going to let the guy out or are you not? He’s been tried, and he’s been convicted under the laws of the state, and right now that’s the way I view that,” Parson said. I talk to people all the time; we’ve pardoned people before, I’ve met them, you like the people and everything — but you still have to remember there’s victims out there that are part of the process too, so you have to take everything into consideration.”

Watch the full episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” below, or listen to the podcast version here.