Judge dismisses Oklahoma challenge over National Guard vaccination mandate

Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) speaks during a panel discussion at the White House State Dining Room June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted a roundtable with governors and small business owners on reopening American small businesses.

A federal judge sided with the Biden administration in a lawsuit brought by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin stitt (R) on the mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine for members of the National Guard.

Senior District Judge, United States Stephen P. Friot, a George W. Bush appointed, appeared to have little patience for the arguments advanced by the Sooner State, as it denied Oklahoma’s petition for a preliminary injunction to block the warrant. Friot rejected the idea that the mandatory vaccines for COVID-19 are unduly burdensome, stressing that it “is the one – in addition to the nine that already apply to all military personnel – intended to protect the military from the virus that has, in less than two years, killed more Americans than have been killed in action in any war the United States has ever fought.

Friot made it clear that his decision is based on “federal law, not common sense”, but that “in any case, the result would be the same”.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were Governor Stitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma John M. O’Connor (R) and sixteen unnamed members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard. The plaintiffs challenged both the federal military vaccine mandate and Executive Order 14043, the vaccine mandate for federal civilian employees.

Friot ruled that Oklahoma did not have standing to bring legal action on behalf of its citizens because the federal government is presumed to be acting in the best interests of all citizens. The court continued, ruling that Oklahoma has failed to demonstrate its own standing because “the state has not clearly shown how EO 14043 or the military vaccine warrant has caused, or will cause, a economic damage to the State “. On the contrary, explained Friot, Oklahoma has alleged it would lose “state tax dollars” when federal employees lose their jobs because they choose not to be vaccinated. Such an injury, which does not go “beyond pure speculation”, is insufficient to confer status, said Friot.

Friot accepted Oklahoma’s argument that he suffered tangible harm in the form of insufficient National Guard personnel on hand.

“89 percent of guard airmen have been vaccinated, while only 40 percent of army guards have been vaccinated,” the judge noted in his ruling. While this lack of resources is prejudice sufficient to confer standing, the judge noted, it is not prejudice that the court’s decision would remedy.

“Even if the court prohibited the defendants from applying EO 14043,” the judge stressed, “members of the Guard remain subject to the separate military vaccination requirement,” the ruling continued.

Friot clarified that his decision was not limited to procedural flaws. He wrote:

The COVID vaccination mandate must be understood in the context of other military vaccination mandates – which date back as far as the General that of George Washington mandate that Continental Army troops be vaccinated against smallpox.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin is “the highest civilian official with direct responsibility for the preparation of the nation’s military forces”, and he considered the vaccination mandate “an essential military readiness requirement for all components and units of the army, including including the Oklahoma National Guard “. Friot found “no basis on which this court could challenge this judgment”.

Further, Friot noted: “From day one of the vaccine’s military mandate, custody has been included.” The inclusion of the National Guard was essential to maintain a “healthy and ready force”. The vaccine’s mandate goes to the heart of federal oversight of the military, wrote Friot, writing: “This, in the midst of a global pandemic, goes to the heart of ‘the discipline prescribed by Congress'” to regulate its military. .

Judge Friot continued, dismissing Oklahoma’s multiple constitutional arguments and believing that no public interest would be served by blocking the federal vaccine mandate. He reasoned:

[T]The court would be hard pressed to conclude that the public interest would be served by the entry of an order prohibiting the implementation of a vaccine mandate that adds an FDA-approved vaccine to the list of nine that all military personnel are already required to take. this tenth vaccine being the one that has proven to be remarkably effective in mitigating the effects of the pandemic which has affected millions of Americans, including thousands of the military.

Other challenges of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates for employers are on the Supreme Court’s record and are expected to be debated in the new year.

[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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