U.S. Pushes Back Against Military Vaccine Mandate Lawsuit
(Bloomberg) -- A Justice Department lawyer pushed back on military personnel claims that kicking them out of the service for refusing to get vaccinated will result in harm that can never be compensated by a court.
The service members sued this week to vacate a Pentagon vaccine mandate for all those in the military, arguing they face imminent harm if a court order isn’t issued temporarily blocking the requirement. They say they face dishonorable discharge or even two years in jail.
“There is case law out there that says separation from the military is not irreparable harm,” Justice Department lawyer Andrew Carmichael said during a phone hearing Friday. He also said the U.S. should be given time to verify the claims by the anonymous service members.
The group of 14 active duty personnel are represented by former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, known for trying to flip the result of the 2020 presidential election with a series of conspiratorial lawsuits. Earlier Friday her legal team sought a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Aug. 24 requirement.
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor in Tallahassee, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, questioned why the group waited so long to sue.
“The order that you are challenging is seven weeks old,” Winsor said.
“The issues involved are very complex,” Brandon Johnson, one of Powell’s lawyers, said at the hearing. “It did take some time to prepare the arguments -- longer than we would have liked.”
The judge set another hearing for Tuesday. He told Powell’s team to meet with the Justice Department’s attorneys and try to agree on a deadline for a government response.
Powell’s Dallas-based nonprofit group Defending the Republic filed the lawsuit Oct. 6, claiming the Pentagon mandate violates service members’ civil rights and exceeds the authority granted by Congress to the military by Congress.
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