How far can Biden go?

Obama-era White House counsel looks beyond vaccination mandate to possible follow-up orders, litigation.

Seeking to jumpstart COVID-19 vaccinations amid surging Delta variant cases, President Biden has imposed new requirements on all federal employees, including contractors. This workforce of 4 million will have to show they are vaccinated. Those who refuse will have to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, socially distance, and wear masks while on the job, Biden announced Thursday. Members of the military will also be required to attest to vaccination, the Defense Department announced.

Several union leaders for federal employee groups have objected to the order and predicted widespread resistance among their members. With politics fueling much of the lingering opposition to vaccines and masks, some question whether the mandate exceeds the president’s constitutional authority.

W. Neil Eggleston, a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017, and as associate counsel to the president during the Clinton administration. He also represented the Office of the President during the independent counsel’s Whitewater and Lewinsky investigations. Eggleston spoke to the Gazette about the scope and soundness of Biden’s authority to issue a mandate, and how courts are likely to see it.

-Harvard Gazette

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