Judge rejects Oregon state troopers’ lawsuit to halt Gov. Brown’s vaccine mandate

A request by 33 Oregon State Police troopers to temporarily halt a vaccine mandate issued by Gov. Kate Brown from taking effect was rejected by a judge on Thursday.

Brown’s mandate requires the state’s executive branch employees, including state troopers, to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18, according to The Oregonian. Others affected by the mandate include hundreds of thousands of health care workers, K-12 educators and volunteers, though religious or medical exemptions can be requested.

In saying that the governor was acting within her legislatively granted authority in issuing the vaccine mandate, retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau said in a written opinion that based on case law “the police power of the state includes the authority to enact public health laws that may have the effect of curtailing individual rights,” the newspaper reported.

“The governor and the State of Oregon have an unquestioned interest in protecting the health and wellbeing of the state’s employees,” Landau wrote. “Likewise, they have undeniable interest in protecting the public from the dangers posed by the COVID-19 virus.”

The vaccine mandate has prompted at least eight lawsuits and Thursday’s ruling is the second denying plaintiffs a request to temporarily halt the mandates, the article noted.

The lawsuit argued that the order forcing officers to “decide between their livelihoods and vindicating their statutory and constitutional rights is unconscionable and wrong.”

The troopers’ attorney, Daniel Thenell, said Oregon will likely lose between 50 and 200 state troopers out of a pool of 684 because of the mandate, leaving some areas of the state dangerously understaffed, the Oregonian reported.

“I think it’s incredibly important to understand that all of the plaintiffs in this case are dedicated public servants that have chosen to serve the state and would like to continue to serve the state,” Thenell said.

A group of 25 healthcare workers, firefighters and paramedics who also sued were also dealt a “crushing blow” on Tuesday when the Oregon Court of Appeals refused to intervene in their case, Oregon Medical Workers for Medical Freedom and Mandate Free Oregon vs. the Oregon Health Authority, finding that their arguments have “little-to-no likelihood of success,” the Oregonian reported on Wednesday.

The paper detailed those arguments here:

 Among their arguments: The governor and state public health officials have overstepped their authority; their right to shun vaccines under the First Amendment’s freedom of expression clause is under attack; and they’ll suffer irreparable harm if they’re fired or the vaccine causes side effects days or years down the road. Some also argue they should be allowed to wear masks and get tested once a week instead of undergoing vaccinations.

 

While the plaintiffs can continue to pursue their cases, and are expected to do just that, primarily in circuit courts, based on different arguments.

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