OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The Republican Governor of Oklahoma and the state attorney general filed a federal complaint Thursday, challenging the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for the Oklahoma National Guard.
In a statement, Gov. Kevin Stitt argued that the Biden administration’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin exceeded his constitutional authority by subjecting the National Guard to the warrant, which applies to active-duty military personnel.
“This week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared his intention to proceed with an unconstitutional sanction that targets individual soldiers and airmen of the Oklahoma National Guard, including withholding of their wages,” he said. Stitt said.
The Pentagon could not be immediately reached for comment on the trial on Thursday.
Stitt had asked Austin to suspend the mandate of the Oklahoma National Guard and had asked his new adjutant general to assure the members that they would not be punished if they did not get vaccinated.
However, Austin rejected that exemption and said any member of the National Guard unvaccinated against COVID-19 would be excluded from federally-funded exercises and training necessary to maintain their guard status.
Stitt said that while members of the National Guard are paid by the federal government, they remain their commander-in-chief under federal and state constitutional and statutory law unless the president orders their mobilization.