OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Today, the State of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration to stop its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement for federal employees and the National Guard.
The Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General has asked a federal court to grant a Temporary Restraining Order and/or preliminary injunction followed by a permanent injunction, preventing the enforcement of the vaccine mandate.
Additionally, the lawsuit asks the Court to block the Biden Administration from withholding federal funding from the Oklahoma National Guard or its Guard members, and declare the mandate unconstitutional.
“Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine 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,” said Attorney General John O’Connor. “These patriots, along with many federal employees, who serve their country and their state are now at risk of being terminated because they do not wish to take the vaccine.”
Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rejected a request by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt that his state’s National Guard be exempt from a Pentagon requirement that all military members be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Stitt, a Republican, had asked Austin in early November to suspend the mandate for members of the Oklahoma Guard. In his response denying the request, Austin laid out the Pentagon’s rationale for the mandate and noted potential consequences of Stitt’s stated intention to defy the requirement.
“This vaccine mandate is unlawful and does not reflect the Land of the Free,” said General O’Connor.
Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement regarding the federal lawsuit filed today:
“The U.S. Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, and U.S. Code Title 32 are all clear: as governor, I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard.
Therefore, unless mobilized by the President of the United States under U.S. Code Title10, I retain the authority for all training and governance of the Oklahoma National Guard – including determining if and how training guidelines issued by the president will be implemented.
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.
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.
Further, it is hypocritical that Secretary Austin addresses the importance of medical readiness in his letter but fails to mention that unlike active-duty personnel, National Guard members are not provided health care and must purchase it themselves. If medical readiness is truly that high of a priority to the Department of Defense, it should provide health care for all National Guard Soldiers and Airmen like it does for active duty service members.
I will continue fighting to protect Oklahoma against this alarming pattern of unconstitutional federal overreach coming from the Biden administration.”Gov. Kevin Stitt
Under orders from Stitt, the state’s new adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, put out a memo telling his troops that they aren’t required to get the shot and “no negative administrative or legal action” would be taken against them if they refuse.
“We are grateful for the support of the Legislature and the Governor in the State’s efforts to block the overreach of the Biden Administration,” General O’Connor said. “Their support and funding for this lawsuit protects hardworking Oklahomans in federal jobs, and our Oklahoma National Guard members from Biden’s reckless and unlawful vaccine mandates.”
Read the full suit filing below:
According to Stitt’s office, more than 1,000 Army and Air Force Guard members, or about 13% of the state’s 8,200 troops, have indicated they won’t get the vaccine, according to an internal survey. Stitt’s spokeswoman, Carly Atchison added that about 40% of Oklahoma’s Army Guard members are vaccinated, but they have until next June to get their shots, under a deadline set by the Army.