Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott sued President Joe Biden and other members of the administration on Tuesday over the requirement that members of the National Guard be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The lawsuit comes after a federal judge in Oklahoma in a separate case declined to block the mandate for members of the National Guard there. Abbott’s lawsuit challenging the National Guard vaccine requirement is the latest shot in a multifront legal war between Texas and the Biden administration, which has included court fights over other federal vaccine mandates, as well as immigration and abortion.
The lawsuit says the vaccine policy for National Guard members infringes “on Governor Abbott’s authority as Commander in Chief and on Texas’s sovereignty.”
“It is unlawful for Defendants to attempt to override the Governor’s authority to govern his troops, and then leave him to deal with the harms that they leave in their wake,” the lawsuit said.
The policy stems from an August memo from Secretary of Defense Austin Lloyd announcing vaccine requirements for members of the military. A follow-up memo from Austin made clear that it applied to non-federalized members of the National Guard, with directions to withhold funding or prohibit members from participating in military duties if they refuse to get vaccinated.
According to Abbott’s lawsuit, more than 220 members of the Texas Air National Guard and about 40% of the members of the Texas Army National Guard are refusing to get vaccinated — for religious reasons or otherwise.
“Because the Military Vaccine Mandate will lead to the loss of these Guardsmen from Governor Abbott’s command, and the State’s militia, the harm to the State is inevitable,” the lawsuit said, while alleging the vaccine requirement was unconstitutional and a violation of an administrative law that dictates agency procedures for rolling out new policies.
Abbott is not the only Republican governor to oppose the vaccine requirement for National Guard members. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt also went to court to halt the mandate in his state.
Last week, Judge Stephen Friot from the Western District of Oklahoma denied Stitt’s request for an injunction with a ruling that said Defense Department regulations “leave no doubt that the department’s vaccination protocols must, and do, apply as fully to the statutory reserve components (including the Guard) as to the active-duty forces.”
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