Government employees in Oregon filed a lawsuit against their Democratic governor's vaccine mandate just hours after President Biden announced a similar policy for federal workers.
Oregon governor Kate Brown in August announced a vaccine mandate for state employees. Brown said employees may be fired for refusing to comply with the mandate, which will start being enforced in October. State employees are now challenging the policy, saying it is unnecessary because of their natural immunity against COVID-19, which some studies say may be a more effective deterrent against the Delta variant than the vaccine.
"The State has no compelling interest in coercing Plaintiffs into taking a COVID-19 vaccine, because Oregon has no compelling interest in treating employees with natural immunity any differently from employees who obtained immunity from a vaccine, nor is mandatory vaccination an appropriate least-restrictive means for the State to achieve any compelling interest," the plaintiff stated in a complaint to the U.S. District Court for Oregon.
Jason Dudash, director of the Oregon chapter of the Freedom Foundation, which represents the six state employees in the lawsuit, said Brown has become power-hungry amid the pandemic. The courts, he said, must establish a more logical, science-based approach, rather than the governor-imposed vaccine mandate.
"I think this governor has a bit of an ego issue—she never wants to admit she is wrong or has any fault," Dudash told the Washington Free Beacon. "This lawsuit aims to make a couple of exemptions instead of [the governor's] overarching ‘do what I say or get lost' policy, which is what she has become very comfortable with promoting the past year and a half."
Brown's office did not respond to a request for comment.
This lawsuit is not the first one to challenge Brown's COVID mandates. A group of police officers and firefighters this month also sued Brown over a separate vaccine mandate, which they argued could result in wrongful terminations. Dudash said he hopes the courts will suspend the mandate before Brown's deadline.
"I think many people in this conversation have lost all logic," Dudash told the Free Beacon. "They're simply doing emotional reactionary policies. I think our leaders need to be OK with saying, ‘We don't know exactly what's going on right now and we're going to do our best to find the solution.'"