The lawsuit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argues that the federal government only has the authority to issue such mandates while troops are deployed. Otherwise, the governor is the commander-in-chief of Texas guard members.
Rose Thayer, a reporter for Stars and Stripes, spoke to Texas Standard about the lawsuit. Listen to the interview with Thayer in the audio player above or read the transcript below.
This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.
Texas Standard: Texas claims this case is not about being pro- or anti-vaccine, and I guess that may leave a lot of listeners scratching their head. What is this about?
Rose Thayer: Yes. The lawsuit says that very clearly: Gov. Abbott has said that he is the commander of Texas National Guard troops until the moment they are activated on federal orders. And at that point, the president becomes their commander. So he believes that for that reason, the federal government can’t step in and mandate a vaccine for them while they’re on state orders and under his command. However, the Pentagon’s argued that when troops are under states’ control, they still have the ability to mandate vaccines that help for medical readiness for those federal missions.
I know that there was a recent vaccination deadline for the Air National Guard.
Yes, Dec. 2 was the deadline.
How many Air National Guard forces were not vaccinated by that deadline?
I checked in with the Texas military department yesterday and they said 90% of their Air National Guard troops have been vaccinated, so there’s about 10% they said are seeking a waiver, exemption of some sort.
And what about the Army’s deadline? Is that coming up?
The army gave their National Guard troops until June 2022 to get the vaccine, so they’ve got a little bit more leeway, and it’s hard to say if those troops are refusing or they’re just waiting until deadline. But the lawsuit from Gov. Abbott says that 40% of Army National Guard troops are refusing the vaccine. Read Full Article >