- - Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The president has no authority to require the general public to wear masks (“Joe Biden: I would insist anyone in public wear a mask,” Web, June 26). As sovereign entities that both predated and retained broad powers under the U.S. Constitution, only the individual states possess inherent “police powers” to protect their inhabitants’ health, safety and welfare. In contrast, federal authorities must be expressly enumerated in the Constitution.

Chief Justice John Roberts’ way around this dilemma in the Affordable Care Act litigation was to uphold that law’s individual insurance mandate as a tax, since Congress may tax what it cannot otherwise regulate. Does that mean former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan to mandate mask-wearing from the Oval Office is to impose a tax for failure to comply?

CHARLES G. KELS

San Antonio, Texas

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