Judge turns down Oregon State Police troopers' request to stop governor's vaccine mandate

A judge turned down a request from Oregon State Police troopers to stop Gov. Kate BrownKate BrownKristof leaves NYT to consider governor bid NYT columnist Kristof takes step toward Oregon governor bid Oregon Republicans sue to block Democrats' redistricting plan MORE’s (D) vaccine mandate from taking effect later this month.

Retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau ruled that Brown was acting within her authority to issue the mandate, according to The Oregonian.

Landau said in a written opinion that that the state has “an unquestioned interest in protecting the health and wellbeing of the state’s employees,” the news outlet reported. “Likewise, they have undeniable interest in protecting the public from the dangers posed by the COVID-19 virus.”

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The Oregon Fraternal Order of Police and the Kingsley Firefighters Association sued Brown in early September, arguing the vaccine mandate for all executive branch employees conflicts with an Oregon state law prohibiting employers from requiring workers to be immunized as a condition of employment.

The suit also alleged the mandate forces their members to “decide between their livelihoods and vindicating their statutory and constitutional rights is unconscionable and wrong.” 

Brown’s mandate requires state workers to show that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18. Exceptions can be granted for those who have disabilities, qualifying medical conditions or religious beliefs.

Employees who don’t comply with the mandate can face “personnel consequences up to and including separation from employment.”

Dan Thenell, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, told The Oregonian “each of the plaintiffs are assessing their options for moving forward.”

The Hill has reached out to Thenell for comment. 

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Charles Boyle, deputy communications director for Brown's office,  didn't directly comment on the ruling when reached by The Hill. 

However, he told The Hill that Brown is  "pursuing the approach that makes the most sense from a public health perspective and from a workforce perspective." 

"Unvaccinated people in the workplace put themselves and everyone around them at risk for COVID-19 — and, quite frankly, COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces across the state are happening right now and are already a disruption to the workforce," Boyle said. "Getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect one person, it helps protect everyone in a community from COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks that will lead to workforce shortages." 

Sixty-seven percent of Oregon’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 61 percent has been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Updated at 4:06 p.m.