A federal appeals court sided with Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a case challenging the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for Texas National Guard members, ruling that the federal government’s attempt to punish noncompliance with the mandate was unconstitutional. The court ruled that the Texas militia, including the Guard, is not subject to punishment by the federal government because they have not been called into service by the President. The Texas Governor, as commander-in-chief of Texas’s militia, is the only person with the power to direct disciplinary actions against non-federalized Texas Guardsmen—not the President or any federal military official.
The National Guard, from its inception, has been deemed a militia that is under the control of the state governor unless federalized into national service. Biden’s unlawful effort to punish state guardsmen who refused the Covid-19 vaccine violated the Constitution by contradicting this long-standing structure that ensures separation of powers.
In addition, although the Biden Administration contended that the mandate was necessary to ensure military “readiness,” the Administration repealed the mandate in 2023, revealing that it had no relation to readiness. Meanwhile, however, the Administration continued to threaten punishment for past disobedience against guard members who had not complied. Threats of federal punishment against Texas Guardsman included court-martial, discharge, prohibition of drills and other duties, and withholding of pay.
The Office of the Attorney General served as the Governor’s counsel in this case.
To read the opinion, click here.