January 23, 2022

Oklahoma sues over National Guard vaccine mandate

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.

“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.

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.

The lawsuit also asks the court to block the vaccine mandate for other federal workers.

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.

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