Proposed anti-vax bill halted in Tennessee special session

Local Coronavirus Coverage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A piece of legislation proposing to go against any federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate was postponed in the COVID-19 Committee Thursday during the general assembly’s third extraordinary session.

The “COVID-19 Health Care Liberty Jurisdiction Act,” proposed by Representative Bud Hulsey (R- Kingsport) essentially goes against any COVID-19 vaccine mandate and would likely invite a lawsuit by the federal government.

“This bill provides that no person shall be required to submit or consent to or receive one of the currently offered COVID-19 shots. The protection of the person applies regardless of the justification given for the requirement,” Hulsey said Thursday.

This would go against the proposed federal guidance imposing a vaccine requirement for millions of Americans who work for employers who employ more than 100 workers and basically anyone who works in healthcare.

“The issue is the federal government – under the 10th Amendment – does not have jurisdiction over issues dealing with health and health procedures, health medicine, and those kinds of things. Those are left up to the powers of the state,” he said.

Constitutional law expert Stewart Harris begs to differ.

“With all due respect, this is simply wrong,” Harris said. “The 10th Amendment, which does mention state power, is nonetheless not a great source of independence between the states and the federal government. The 10th Amendment is being very narrowly interpreted to do only a couple of very specific things, and it certainly does not empower a state to simply ignore federal law.”

Hulsey explained Thursday that he understands the federal mandate, but that he does not know whether the federal mandate would have jurisdiction in Tennessee.

“Now, that mandate might or might not be within the federal government’s jurisdiction. I don’t know. But state law cannot override a valid federal law,” he said.

He added that he does not think the proposed mandate would be a “valid” law, contrary to what Harris has studied for years.

Harris explained that there are essentially three levels of federal law, at the very top is the Constitution of the United States. Then there are federal statutes, which are laws that are passed by Congress and signed by the President. And then just below them are federal regulations that federal agencies will adopt pursuant to statutory authority.

“All three levels are federal law, and even the lowest federal regulation, will trump a state constitution. It’s just that clear. So if these OSHA regulations are finalized, and I believe they’re still going through the process right now, they will have what we often call the force and effect of law and any state law to the contrary will be unconstitutional and void,” Harris said.

As far as possible future lawsuits, Hulsey said Thursday he believes his proposed bill would likely invite legal action.

“Because now if we enact this bill state law is allowing persons not to do what the federal mandate requires employees and contractors to do with respect to those persons. So if we enact this bill, it should allow employers a defense against any federal action for enforcement for COVID-19 shots because the employee is given a right to refuse by state law. That means that the employer does not have a right to violate an employee’s state fundamental rights based on the 9th Amendment to the Constitution,” Husley said.

Harris countered that “the 9th Amendment has nothing to do with state power.”

“The federal court will look at the two laws if you will find a conflict between the federal and state laws and the federal laws will win every time. So it’s a very clear area of constitutional law,” Harris said.

As he was defending his proposed bill before the COVID-19 Committee Thursday, Hulsey made the claim that the COVID vaccine isn’t a “vaccine” unless it guarantees 100% that the inoculated person would not be infected.

“The manufacture, sale or delivery or holding or offering for sale of a COVID-19 drug, if it’s advertised as a vaccine, that is prohibited unless this shot protects a person from being infected. A vaccine by WHO’s definition – the World Health Organization – and also by the CDC’s definition of a vaccine is a substance that causes an immunity to build in a person’s body when they come in contact with the disease, they do not catch it.”

“This COVID-19 shot is not a vaccine, it does not prevent the disease. It might mitigate some of the effects but it does not prevent the disease,” he said.

As a reference below is listed the full definitions provided by both the World Health Organization, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – neither of which declare that a vaccine is in fact not a vaccine unless it offers 100% effectivity against infection.

Vaccine: A preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease. However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications.

World Health Organization (WHO)

To Harris, a recent death in his family emphasized the importance of vaccinations.

“The hospitals are not full of people having bad reactions to vaccines. The hospitals are full of people who didn’t get vaccinated and who are dying of COVID. And I’m very sorry to say that I just came back from a funeral of a close family member who was in that category. She died much too young because she refused to get a vaccine,” he said.

The bill ultimately comes down to a struggle between federal and states rights.

“The Federal government’s got its own garden to hoe in, Tennessee has our garden to hoe in – they don’t need to be hoein’ in our garden, that’s what this says,” Hulsey said.

“The Federal government does have its own garden to hoe in, and that is the entire United States of America, which includes all 50 states, including Tennessee. That’s what a federal system of government is: more than one government governs in a given geographic area. And whenever there’s a conflict between a state law on one side and federal on the other, the federal law wins every time,” Harris said.

The COVID-19 committee did not vote on Hulsey’s proposed bill. A committee member told News Channel 11 today that the legislature would not vote on it during this special session.

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