The dumbest anti-vax argument

A federal judge shot down Oklahoma GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt’s attempt to enjoin the Pentagon from imposing its vaccine mandate on his state’s National Guard troops.

The judge ruled the Defense Department’s vaccination protocols “must and do” apply not just to active duty personnel but also Reserve and Guard components, noting (among other things) they can be called up for federal service at any time.

(Story here; judge’s order here.)

Stitt had previously argued to the Pentagon that the mandate “violates the personal freedoms” of Guard soldiers. Wait, what? That argument is just plain dumb, perhaps the dumbest anti-vaccine argument of them all.

Does this even need to be explained? There’s very little “personal freedom” in the military. You get the shots they tell you to. If they tell you to do pushups, you do them. If they order you to charge against the enemy into certain death, you do it. You gave up your freedom to say “no” when you signed the enlistment papers. (Or, back in the day, when you got a Selective Service induction notice.)

Stitt and several other GOP governors also argued they’re commander-in-chief of Guard troops when they’re not on federal duty, which is most of the time. This, at least, raises some interesting federalism questions.

The judge responded, “However wide-ranging the command authority of the Governor and the Adjutant General may be within the four corners of their own state … it is unmistakably clear that the intent of Congress … is that the Guard and its members will at all events be prepared … to be ordered into federal service.” This isn’t exactly federal preemption at work, but rather a superseding federal interest that takes precedence over the governor’s prerogatives.

The best illustration of this I can think of is the following. Let’s suppose the governor wants to deploy the Guard at a local disaster scene, but the federal government calls them into federal service and fly them overseas to reinforce a regular army division staggering from an enemy attack. Guess whose orders have higher priority?

The governors’ hypocrisy wasn’t lost on the judge, either; he noted they “had not objected to nine other vaccines required of all service members.” He added, “The vaccine mandate to which the Governor objects is … intended to protect service members from the virus which has … killed more Americans than … all of the wars the United States has ever fought,” which is as close as a federal judge will ever come to calling a state governor a dumbass.

Which is what Stitt and the other GOP governors fighting the Pentagon vaccine mandate are.

Related story: Bowing to the court order, Oklahoma’s National Guard said unvaccinated airmen can’t participate in drills or get paid. Story here.

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  1. Mark Adams #

    If the Federal Government calls up the guard for service in say a tropical paradise that has yellow fever. it is not likely all the Guard troops have the immunization, most will not. They will receive the vaccine after being inducted for national service. So th judge maybe wrong here and the Gov correct, as if the Guard is called up the troops can line up and receive the Covid along with yellow fever and other shots.
    Now if the Governor says his guard troops have to have a vaccine the US active military are not required to have his Guard troops have to take the state mandated vaccine.

    The problem is that guard units when called up are cannon fodder. Sometimes it is more important to get them in theatre and on the line and niceties like training maybe overlooked, most likely in this circumstance the Covid vaccinations may well be overlooked in many cases or only the first administered along with an anthrax shot. The Judge is well not really familiar with reality of national guard call ups, is biased toward what the active duty command is saying or frankly lying.

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    The judge is less biased than you are, and better informed. This website lists the standard Army inoculations. The issue at hand is requiring troops to get Covid-19 shots or leave the service. Given Covid-19’s track record, it’s very hard to argue that isn’t necessary to maintain the military’s readiness. Sick troops can’t fight, and commanders don’t want highly infectious diseases in barracks and mess halls. You and other anti-vaxxers really don’t have a reasonable argument here.

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