Oklahoma’s top officials filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday to stop the compulsory vaccine mandates for federal employees and the National Guard.
The lawsuit, filed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) and Attorney General John O’Connor (R), asks a federal court to block the Biden administration from withholding federal funding and payment belonging to unvaccinated National Guard members. They also requested that the vaccine mandates be declared unconstitutional.
“There are currently no rules that require employers to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine for employees. I urge Oklahoma employers to disregard the Biden Administration’s wishes to the contrary,” Attorney General O’Connor said in a statement.
“In the event federal emergency rules are issued that place such an unlawful demand upon employers, our office will be joined by other state Attorneys General across the country to quickly sue and seek an injunction against any implementation or enforcement,” said O’Connor.
The U.S. Pentagon announced on Tuesday that all National Guard members must comply with the vaccination mandates, or they will be barred from training and have their pay withheld.
Gov. Stitt asked Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to suspend the mandates for the Oklahoma National Guard last month, but his request was denied by Austin, who informed him that there would be consequences for those who defy.
After Stitt’s request was denied by Austin, Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, issued a memo telling his troops that they are not required to get the vaccine, and that “no negative administrative or legal action” would be taken against them if they refused.
Stitt later issued a statement, maintaining that he is “the Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard,” and unless mobilized by the president, he retains “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.”
Oklahoma’s lawsuit also asks the court to block the vaccine requirements for federal workers as well. In September, Biden ordered all federal employees to receive a vaccination, or face consequences.
More than 1,000 Army and Air Force Guard members in Oklahoma, or 13 percent of the state’s troops, said that they will not get the vaccine, according to Stitt’s office.