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In an August 12, 2022 “Coronavirus Roundup” published by Government Executive, Ambika Biggs provided an update on the ongoing legal challenges to the Covid-19 vaccine mandates for federal contractors, which was issued by the Biden administration in September 2021.

To date, there have been six injunctions issued, including a national injunction, and the federal government has appealed all six to date. With all of the challenges, Biggs said the matter is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, especially if there is a circuit split on decisions.

“Last fall and winter there was a lot of confusion as to what was going on,” due to the status of the various lawsuits, Biggs said. “That’s not happening now – I think just because there is a nationwide injunction, and there hasn’t been any sort of ruling…In some sense they’re left in limbo, but it's not as bad as it was last fall.” She added that there will likely be a period of “scrambling” if and when the mandate goes back into effect.

Biggs noted that these cases really “come down to the interpretation of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, which is just called the Procurement Act” and “whether President Biden had authority under that act to issue the executive order that put the federal contractor mandate in place.”  In the pleadings that have happened thus far, Biggs says the main argument has been that “there wasn’t a close enough nexus between wanting an economical and efficient system for procurement and the actual vaccine mandate,” and that the mandate was more about public health, which is usually under states’ jurisdiction. 

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Heather A. Scott

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