Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s lawsuit to stop the federal government from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for National Guard members, the governor’s office said in a statement to the press on Thursday.
Dunleavy and Abbott, both Republicans, are plaintiffs in the case against President Joe Biden and Defense Department leaders. They say the mandate unconstitutionally challenges state sovereignty and undermines their authorities as commanders of the state National Guard units.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in August ordered all military members, including the National Guard, to get COVID-19 shots. In November, he told the Department of Defense to “withhold salaries of unvaccinated, non-federalized Guard members or deprive them of credit for drills and training,” the press release noted.
“Our Alaska National Guard has recently responded to winter storm disasters in Yakutat, the Interior, and the Mat-Su. What happens in the next disaster if Guard members can’t be activated because they chose not to get a federally-mandated COVID vaccine?” Dunleavy said.
“Protecting the freedom and liberty of National Guard members has fallen on responsible governors,” he added. “The federal government has no authority to make health decisions for National Guard members who are at work under state authority. I pledge to protect that medical freedom and to challenge the trampling of our state’s rights under the 10th Amendment.”
The Defense Department demand to members of the Alaska Army National Guard and Alaska Air National Guard is an improper assertion of federal authority, according to the lawsuit. Since the National Guard has not been called into federal service by the president, governors retain their authority, the suit argues.
“This is not a case demanding a position of pro- or anti-vaccine, nor is it a case that challenges any aspect of the federal government’s authority over National Guardsmen once federal authority has been properly established,” the lawsuit reads, but instead is about the clear wording of the Constitution that state governors hold command of the National Guard when they are not under federal authority.
Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor has also sought the end to federal mandates for employees of large, private businesses, federal contractors, healthcare workers and Head Start employees and volunteers, the statement noted.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is fighting the federal government on multiple fronts as well.
”It’s similar to every lawsuit that we have, I think we’re at 25 lawsuits, with the Biden administration,” Paxton told Newsmax earlier this month.