Federal judge sides with Biden, upholds vaccine mandate for National Guard members

The Biden administration just scored a legal victory in its effort to impose a strict COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

According to the Washington Examiner, a federal judge just denied a motion filed by the state of Oklahoma that sought to block the Pentagon’s vaccine requirement for members of the National Guard.

Details of the dispute

The Biden administration announced in August that it would be issuing a mandate for all military service members to receive inoculation against COVID-19. For the most part, those impacted by the requirement have complied.

A number of GOP state leaders, however, fought back against the mandate. Among the concerns being raised by these critics is a belief that the Pentagon should not be permitted to enforce a federal requirement against National Guard members in each state.

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has made the argument that he is the head of his state’s National Guard and therefore has the ultimate power to determine whether such a mandate should be enforced.

He pursued his argument in court with a lawsuit earlier this month against the Department of Defense. His complaint was filed on behalf of 16 members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard.

This week, Judge Stephen P. Friot handed down the first ruling in the case, denying Stitt’s motion to prevent the Pentagon’s mandate from being enforced against the troops.

Federal judge reaches decision

For his part, the judge noted that service members are already required to receive nine vaccines and determined that adding another one “would hardly amount to ‘an enormous and transformative expansion [of the] regulatory authority’ the Secretary of Defense already possesses.”

A spokesperson for the governor issued a statement acknowledging that his “office has reviewed the judge’s order” but declining to offer any further comment.

As a result, it is not immediately clear whether Stitt will appeal the ruling. For now, at least, it seems as though members of the National Guard will be required to abide by the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate.

Of course, this is one of several state-level challenges to the various vaccine mandates announced by President Joe Biden.

The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed earlier this month that it would hear arguments from 27 GOP-led states opposed to a federal requirement impacting employers with 100 or more employees.

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