At Pro-Business Texas, Can Abbott Ban ‘Vaccine Passport’ Requirements For Customers?

At Pro-Business Texas, Can Abbott Ban ‘Vaccine Passport’ Requirements For Customers?

University of Houston business law professor Dietrich von Biedenfeld told Texas Standard that Abbott does have the authority to bar so-called vaccine passports. That’s because federal law only goes as far as allowing businesses to require vaccinations from their employees – not their patrons. For some, the moved seemed controversial in a state known for its pro-business stance. It has also led to some complications for businesses like cruise ship operators that are concerned about following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, traveling to ports with different COVID-19 rules and having unvaccinated people on a vessel.

“One of the challenges is the federal government’s failure to come up with a national or unified standard on what vaccine permissions or requirements can be allowed outside of the employment relationships,” von Biedenfeld said. “This is a new sphere.” Even if vaccine passport rules are taken out of the state’s hands, he says private business associations, like the approximately 300,000-member National Restaurant Association, will likely struggle to come up with a “cohesive strategy” to replace it because their membership is so diverse.

“Do we have permission to control our private businesses?” Von Biedenfeld said. If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on and Thanks for donating today.

Von Biedenfeld expects a legal battle over the law, especially if the cruise industry can’t come to a compromise with the state. He says the 2018 Masterpiece Cake Shop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court case could offer some clue about the legal future of Texas’ law. The court ultimately reversed Colorado’s decision that the cake shop discriminated against a customer for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. He says Abbott used the Legislature to build the law against vaccine passports, and will use state agencies within the executive branch to enforce it. Enforcement will include revoking permits for businesses that require vaccinations from patrons.


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