As the Texas legislative session continues, concerns persist over whether there will be any kind of COVID vaccine mandates, despite reassurances from Gov. Greg Abbott. Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch (R) says the U.S. Supreme Court has already said it can’t be done, but former State Rep. Matt Rinaldi disagrees.

In an interview last Friday about the failed attempt of some Democrat leaders in Dallas County to bring more black and Hispanic residents to receive Chinese coronavirus vaccinations at Fair Park, Koch said he does not support mandating vaccines.

“It can never be mandated,” he said. “There is no medical measure that can lawfully be mandated.”

“The Supreme Court has made that clear over and over again in a long line of case law that starts largely from our religious communities, whether it be the Amish or some of the other traditional orthodox communities that would refuse treatment like blood transfusions and other things,” he continued. “That line of case law is solid and consistent with good constitutional values.”

Healthcare lawyer and former State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R–Irving) disagrees.

“I am not sure which cases he [Koch] is referring to, but the Supreme Court upheld mandatory vaccinations in Jacobson v. Massachusetts,” Rinaldi told Texas Scorecard. “So, I wouldn’t count on the courts to save us from a bad decision by the Legislature to mandate COVID vaccines.”

Rinaldi does agree vaccines shouldn’t be mandated.

“I agree COVID vaccines should not be mandated, especially given the extremely high prevalence of side effects compared to other vaccines and the fact that COVID is not a significant threat to people under 50,” Rinaldi said.

Gov. Abbott has said vaccines will never be required in Texas. But in a prior interview, Jackie Schlegel of Texans for Vaccine Choice has cautioned that doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be a backdoor mandate of some kind.

“Even if we don’t have a statewide mandate, we’re going to see it pushed in other methods that are absolutely going to put people in a position where they’re going to have to accept it or lose access to their livelihood,” she said.

Last week, State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands) joined four other members of the Texas House in signing TFVC’s proclamation against medical mandates and retaliation for exercising their freedom of choice. According to Schlegel, six of the Legislature’s 181 members have signed the proclamation.

TFVC encourages citizens to contact their state representative and state senator and ask them to sign the proclamation. Citizens may do so by going to TFVC’s website.

Schlegel also encourages citizens to let their state representatives and state senators know they want medical freedom, not vaccine mandates or medical mandates of any kind.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.