Skip to main content

Coronavirus

Texas governor sues Biden administration over vaccine mandate for National Guard

Governor Gregg Abbot claims the vaccine mandate is unconstitutional

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott | Shutterstock

January 5, 2022 8:45pm

Updated: January 5, 2022 11:43pm

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott sued the Biden administration over a COVID-19 mandate that requires the Texas National Guard to be fully vaccinated. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in the Eastern District of Texas.

In a letter sent to the adjutant general of Texas Military Department Major General Tracy Norris on Tuesday, Abbot called the rule the “latest unconstitutional vaccine mandate.”

"As the commander-in-chief of Texas's militia, I have issued a straightforward order to every member of the Texas National Guard within my chain of command," Abbott wrote in the letter. "Do not punish any guardsman for choosing not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine."

“The federal courts have the power to decide whether President Biden violates the U.S. Constitution’s Second Militia Clause by undermining my commander-in-chief power, instead of federalizing Texas’s guardsmen to use his own commander-in-chief power,” the letter continues. “I cannot guarantee that the judiciary will grant the relief you deserve. And if President Biden lawfully calls you into the actual service of the United States, then he could order you to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in his newfound role as your commander-in-chief.”

In the letter, Abbot also claimed he has the authority to exempt National Guard members from receiving the vaccine.

“Unless President Biden federalizes the Texas National Guard in accordance with Title 10 of the U.S. Code, he is not your commander-in-chief under our federal or state Constitutions,” Abbot said. “And as long as I am your commander-in-chief, I will not tolerate efforts to compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine."

The vaccination deadline for Texas’ Air National Guard was December 2. The state’s Army Guard has until June 30 to be fully vaccinated.

Currently, around 90 percent of the Texas Air National Guard members are fully vaccinated, according to the Texas Military Department. No numbers have been provided for the vaccination rates of the Texas Army National Guard.

Other states have also voiced opposition to the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for military members. Oklahoma’s Governor Kevin Stitt filed a lawsuit on December 2 over the vaccine mandate for Air National Guard members. A federal court denied the lawsuit on December 28.

The governors of Wyoming, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Nebraska have asked the Biden administration to exempt their Guardsmen from the vaccine mandates.

“Win or lose, President Biden must be held accountable for his unconscionable willingness to hollow out the Texas National Guard. Please know that I am grateful for your service and will continue fighting on your behalf,” Abbot concluded.