The state of Oklahoma is suing the Brandon administration over its vaccine mandate for the state’s National Guard, which it says is unconstitutional and puts the state’s safety at risk.
The complaint was filed last week by Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, along with Governor Kevin Stitt, the state of Oklahoma and 16 national guardsmen who do not wish to get the jab. Dozens of federal officials and agencies are named as defendants, including President Brandon and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The state argues that the Brandon administration’s vaccine mandate is unconstitutional and an example of federal overreach.
The suit states: “This vaccine mandate certainly interferes with the sovereign prerogatives of the State of Oklahoma. It undermines the laws, public policy, dignity, and interests of the State of Oklahoma in governing the field of public health, including vaccinations.”
Under the mandate, members of the National Guard who do not get vaccinated against COVID-19 by June 30, 2022, will not be allowed to participate in training, drills or other duties unless they receive an exemption.
In addition, state officials outlined concern that the administration will disarm the state of Oklahoma and prevent it from protecting itself and its citizens and territory by stripping the Oklahoma National Guard of funding due to noncompliance. They say that many National Guard members will quit rather than get a vaccine, putting the safety and security of the state’s residents at risk. They are asking the court to block the mandate for the National Guard as well as all federal employees.
Governor Stitt wrote in a statement: “It is unconscionable that President Brandon 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.”
He continued: “Threatening the pay of National Guard members is manifestly unlawful and unfair, as unvaccinated active-duty personnel do not have their pay withheld.”
Governor vows to protect his state from federal overreach by Brandon administration
The governor added that he will continue to protect Oklahoma from the Brandon administration’s federal overreach.
The suit came after Austin wrote a formal letter denying a written request by Gov. Stitt that Guard members be exempted from the military’s vaccination requirement. Austin said that any National Guard members who fail to get the vaccine will be barred from the federally funded drills and training that are needed to maintain their status as National Guard members. Marking them absent without cause from training and drills will impact the days they accrue toward retirement and may result in loss of pay.
Gov. Stitt maintains that although the National Guard is paid by the federal government, he, as governor, is their commander in chief under state and federal law unless the president orders their mobilization.
Around 40 percent of Oklahoma’s 6,200 army guardsmen are currently fully vaccinated, while 89 percent of its 2,000 Air National Guard members have gotten the jab.
Attorney General O’Connor says that although he is vaccinated and is not opposed to vaccination in general, he does have an issue with mandating the vaccine, which he says is going to cause a public health care crisis and is an authority that the president simply does not have.
Oklahoma is one of several states suing the Brandon administration over its federal vaccine requirements. A group of 10 states recently filed a suit over the rule requiring that healthcare workers get the vaccines on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. The suit, led by the attorneys general of Missouri and Nebraska, argues that the mandate will exacerbate healthcare worker shortages, especially in rural areas, and threaten the livelihood of millions of healthcare workers who placed their lives at risk in the early days of the pandemic.
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