Judge Rejects Oklahoma’s Bid to Halt Vaccine Mandate for National Guard

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Federal judge denies injunction request from governor, state attorney general and others

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“The vaccine mandate to which the governor objects … is intended to protect service members from the virus, which, in less than two years, has killed more Americans in action than in all wars fought by the United States.” , ”Judge Fritt wrote in his ruling issued on Tuesday. “The court is required to decide this matter on the basis of federal law, not common sense. But, either way, the outcome will be the same.”

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Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III ordered compulsory vaccination for all service members in an August 24 memorandum. “To defend this nation, we need a healthy and ready force,” Austin wrote at the time.

Stitt and O’Connor, both Republicans, have been critical of the federal vaccine requirement and filed suit earlier this month. Mr O’Connor said on Wednesday that his office was analyzing the decision.

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“We filed this lawsuit to support these Oklahomaans who object to the president’s vaccine mandate,” the attorney general’s office said. “We expect the Biden administration to review in good faith all exemptions and religious accommodations requested by our fellow Oklahomans.”

A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment. A spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard did not respond to requests for comment.

Gov. Stitt asked Mr Austin to suspend the mandate in a November 2 letter because it “violates the personal liberties of many Oklahomans”, according to the ruling.

Mr. Austin responded in a letter to Gov. Stitt on November 29, arguing that the mandate was necessary to maintain military readiness. He warned that failing to comply with the mandate “could endanger the member’s position in the National Guard.”

The state argued in its lawsuit filed on December 2 that the executive branch was “aggressively encroaching on the sovereignty” of Oklahoma by requiring National Guard members to take the shot.

But Judge Freight, who was nominated to the bench by Republican President George W. Bush, wrote in the ruling on Tuesday that the state’s argument “assigned the allocation of authority over the Guard to a specially designated reserve component.” showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the United States military.”

The state said 40% of the state’s army personnel have been vaccinated, while 89% of airmen have shot, according to the ruling.

Write Zusha Ellison at [email protected]

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