Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Attorney General John O’Connor filed a lawsuit Thursday against President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin over a National Guard COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The lawsuit argues for relief from the mandate for the state’s guard members, calling the measure unconstitutional.
The lawsuit also asks the court to block the vaccine mandate for other federal workers.
The Governor’s Statement
“This week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared his intention to proceed with unconstitutional punishment that individually targets Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen, including withholding their pay,” Stitt said in a statement.
“It is unconscionable that President Biden and his administration are choosing to play politics with military paychecks, especially amid the highest inflation rate in 30 years and so close to the holiday season.
“Threatening the pay of National Guard members is manifestly unlawful and unfair, as unvaccinated active-duty personnel do not have their pay withheld,” he added.
What Happens Next?
The deadline for National Guard members to be fully vaccinated was Thursday.
Stitt argues in the lawsuit that under Title 32 of the U.S. Code, he holds authority as governor over his guardsmen unless they are activated outside of his state.
“Austin issued a memo on Tuesday ordering all National Guard and Reserve service members to be vaccinated, arguing that the Pentagon can enforce the mandate even when guardsmen are on state duty,” according to The Hill.
“This mandate ensures that many Oklahoma National Guard members will simply quit instead of getting a vaccine, a situation that will irreparably harm Oklahomans’ safety and security,” reads the complaint.
“This mandate ensures that many Oklahoma National Guard members will simply quit instead of getting a vaccine, a situation that will irreparably harm Oklahomans’ safety and security,” reads the complaint. https://t.co/uwp6N05KUK
— The Hill (@thehill) December 3, 2021
The action offers a bold response on behalf of military members that should come from the president, but instead is coming from a leader from among the states.