The Atlantic Daily: The Fight Over Pandemic Mandates Is Different Now

Posted by on September 8, 2021 7:30 pm
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Anti-vaccine protesters holding up signs
John Lamparski / NurPhoto / AP

Vaccinated Americans are over it and have been over it for a while now. Recent polling suggests that those who went out and got their shots—including a large portion of vaccinated Republicans—are in favor of at least some vaccine mandates and blame the unvaccinated for prolonging this pandemic.

That frustration—paired with legitimate health and business-related concerns—helps explain the surge of such mandates in August. But, with a quarter of American adults still yet to get a shot, legal and cultural tussles over vaccine requirements are doomed to go on for a while.

  • People are suing for their right to not get infected. When it comes to mask mandates, “instead of demanding the freedom from health measures, plaintiffs are seeking the freedom that, in a pandemic, only health measures can provide,” the legal scholar Wendy E. Parmet points out.

  • The ACLU is pro–vaccine mandate, despite arguing against them for H1N1 in 2009. The historically libertarian organization “has not signed on to any of the major challenges to vaccine requirements this year.” Lawyers from the group explain their new position to my colleague Russell Berman.

  • Police unions are balking at mandates. One leader compared vaccine requirements to Nazi Germany. Adam Serwer explains that “immunization should be required for government employees because people should not be forced to risk contracting the coronavirus in order to access public services.”  

A statue of Robert E. Lee being removed
Ryan M. Kelly / AFP / Getty

The news in three sentences:

(1) A Florida judge ruled that schools can mandate masks despite the objections of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. (2) The city of Richmond removed a major statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee from its downtown. (3) Attorneys gave opening statements in the criminal trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Critics don’t always get it right. Our culture writer David Sims rounds up 26 flicks that are worth revisiting, even though film pundits gave them a thumbs-down.

A break from the news:

Nantucket doesn’t belong to the preppies.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.

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