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SC sheriffs cannot enforce federal vaccine mandate, sheriffs’ association says

The South Carolina Sheriffs' Association said South Carolina Sheriffs don't have the authority...
The South Carolina Sheriffs' Association said South Carolina Sheriffs don't have the authority to enforce federal law, including presidential mandates.(Live 5 News)
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 7:50 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WYFF/WIS) - The South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association said South Carolina Sheriffs don’t have the authority to enforce federal law, including presidential mandates.

The announcement comes as President Joe Biden announced plans to fight COVID-19 last week, which included mandating employers with 100 or more workers to require COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin and the refusal has cost all of us,” said President Biden last week. “This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you.”

Nationwide, just under 55% of Americans have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, according to the CDC.

A little more than 50% of South Carolinians have been fully vaccinated, according to DHEC.

Friday, the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association released a statement after it said people reached out with concerns on a potential mandate.

“Many have expressed concerns about these Executive Orders. Quite frankly, we all should be leery of government overreach on any level. South Carolina citizens should not, however, worry about their Sheriffs enforcing federal law. In South Carolina, the Office of Sheriff is established in the state Constitution and the South Carolina General Assembly determines the duties of the Sheriff through statute. Ultimately, South Carolina Sheriffs possess no statutory authority to enforce federal law, including Presidential Executive Orders. Additionally, neither the South Carolina Assembly nor the Governor have utilized their authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations,” it read, in part.

“So, while South Carolina Sheriffs encourage you to consult with your doctor about your individual medical situation and whether the COVID-19 vaccine is appropriate for you, they cannot enforce the Executive Orders issued by President Biden on September 9, 2021.”

Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said the statement is not about the vaccine, rather the idea of a mandate. He said it’s likely the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would be tasked with enforcing a federal vaccine mandate.

“We have the Constitution that was created to protect us from that overreach and as Sheriffs, here in the Upstate and across South Carolina, we’re not standing for that.”

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