Oklahoma Suing Biden Admin to Exempt National Guard From Pentagon's COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

© Oklahoma Army National Guard/Pfc. Emily WhiteSoldiers with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, stand in formation preparing to move towards a safehouse during a training exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, July 21, 2021. Members of the 45th IBCT are participating in the Battle of Razish located in a mock-town that simulates a war-like experience and includes a fight from the on post opposing force with the intent of increasing readiness among Soldiers.
Soldiers with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, stand in formation preparing to move towards a safehouse during a training exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, July 21, 2021. Members of the 45th IBCT are participating in the Battle of Razish located in a mock-town that simulates a war-like experience and includes a fight from the on post opposing force with the intent of increasing readiness among Soldiers.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2021
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Earlier this week, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin issued a directive clarifying that all active duty or Ready Reserve members of the US armed forces (including the National Guard) be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by their service's respective deadlines, or face payment withholding and exclusion from required training.
As the Pentagon seeks to enhance COVID-19 vaccine mandate compliance, the state of Oklahoma, in a new complaint filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on Thursday, is pushing back against orders from US Department of Defence and the Biden administration.
The complaint - filed by the state of Oklahoma, Governor Kevin Stitt, and Attorney General John O'Connor - argues that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate that has been unilaterally imposed by the administration of US President Joe Biden is, in their words, "dangerously Un-American", because it oversteps local and state lawmakers and interferes with religious liberties guaranteed in the First Amendment. The lawsuit also attempts to paint the health mandate as seeking to place the unvaccinated in "financial ruin".

"That is the diametrical opposite of how a 'compound republic'— constitutionally enshrining a separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government and a further federalist allocation of federal and state power—is designed to function", reads the complaint.

Thursday's filing requests that the court declare the vaccine mandate unconstitutional and issue a temporary restraining order to block its enforcement amid litigation.

"It is sinister that Biden is threatening Oklahomans with the loss of their jobs if they do not surrender their personal rights and freedoms to the federal government", said AG O'Connor in a quoted statement. "The president is using private employers to do his dirty work".

US Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel are required to be vaccinated by 2 December, while 30 June is the deadline for those affiliated with the US Army - which applies to most members of the National Guard in Oklahoma.
The US secretary of defence issued a memo this week highlighting that members of the National Guard will face hefty penalties if they do not comply with the vaccine mandate.
In this Aug. 18, 2021, photo, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin pauses while speaking during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Washington. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.12.2021
Pentagon Withholding Pay to National Guardsmen Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine
"As I've said before, vaccination of the Force will save lives and is essential to our readiness", Austin wrote.
An estimated 2.1 million US military personnel are expected to follow the mandate.
Prior to that, the secretary of defence issued a direct response to Oklahoma Governor Stitt, who requested on 2 November that the Pentagon make Oklahoma National Guard troops exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate because it "violates the personal freedoms of many Oklahomans".
"The concerns raised in your letter do not negate the need for this important military readiness requirement", Austin said in his response, dated 29 November.
As Oklahoma carries out a legal battle over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of its National Guard, Gen. Dan Hokanson, the National Guard Bureau Chief, has tested positive for the contagious disease, according to a Friday statement issued by spokesperson Wayne Hall.
The spokesperson noted that the bureau chief will be isolating, working remotely, and avoiding contact with others.
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