Oklahoma sues the Biden administration over the State National Guard’s vaccine authorization

Oklahoma sued the Biden administration and asked the Department of Defense to authorize it National Guard The troops must be vaccinated against COVID-19, calling it an unconstitutional and dangerously excessive intervention by the federal government.

The lawsuit was filed late Thursday, seeking a temporary injunction and a permanent restraining order against the authorization. It also asked the court to block the threat made this week by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to effectively withhold his funds and wages. Oklahoma National Guard with Guard Member of the state.

The lawsuit exacerbated an already unusual conflict of wills between Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt and the leadership of the Pentagon.Mr. Austin once said that all active duty, reserve and Guard A person protected by COVID-19 is a person who has a preparation problem and has not been vaccinated Guard Members will be prohibited from participating in federally funded training and exercises to maintain their status in the United States Guard.

Oklahoma’s Attorney General John O’Connor called the Pentagon’s vaccine regulations “reckless and illegal,” and warned that it could also affect public safety.

“Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine authorization ensures many Oklahoma National Guard In a statement announcing the lawsuit on Thursday, Mr. O’Connor said that members will only withdraw rather than vaccinate, and this situation will cause irreparable harm to the safety and security of Oklahoma people. “These patriots and many federal employees who serve the country and state are now at risk of being fired because they don’t want to be vaccinated.”

The state argued that the governor is the commander-in-chief of the state. Oklahoma National Guard As long as it operates within the state and has not been mobilized by the president.State officials also argued that, unlike active duty personnel, the health care costs associated with vaccination must be borne by the following personnel Guard Member himself.

Stitt said in a statement on Thursday: “President Biden and his administration have chosen to use military salaries to play politics. This is unreasonable, especially given the highest inflation rate in 30 years and the situation so close to the holidays. Next… I will continue to work hard to protect Oklahoma from the shocking unconstitutional excesses of the Biden administration.”

Mr. Austin explicitly rejected Oklahoma’s request to abandon the mission on Monday, saying that all members of the Oklahoma Air Force and Army National Guard “Regardless of job status” must be vaccinated.

The Pentagon said on Friday that it would not comment on the ongoing litigation, but issued a statement from spokesperson John Kirby, strongly defending Mr. Austin’s authorization.

“All service personnel in the active and reserve forces must comply with the effective medical preparation requirements set by the Secretary of Defense in order to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Mr. Kirby said. “We don’t know of any governor who tried to ban members from being vaccinated, nor did we see this. [mandate] Bring any individual member into conflict with national authorities. “

Mr. Kirby added that failure to receive the COVID vaccine “may endanger individual members’ National Guard; Any impact on the status of members in their state militia is a matter of state authorities. [State governors] Individual members shall not be relieved of their duties Guard They are obliged to comply with the effective medical preparation requirements established by medical institutions [Defense] Department. “

It is said that the governors of several other conservative states are considering Oklahoma’s fight against military vaccine authorization, but so far, no other states have followed suit.

The Pentagon’s order says that military personnel must be vaccinated or apply for exemptions based on health, religion, or other reasons. The latest data shows that nearly 90% Oklahoma National GuardOf pilots are fully vaccinated.

— Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.

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