Ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell sues over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell is suing the Department of Defense, seeking to block the Pentagon from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Powell’s Texas-based group Defending the Republic announced Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on behalf of 16 active-duty service members “in support of their right to refuse” the coronavirus vaccine.

“Through the filing of this lawsuit, we make clear that these service members — those who serve their country with honor — are not the property of the U.S. government, and the Constitution does not allow them to be treated as such,” the group said on its website.

The complaint was first reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday.

The Pentagon mandated all service members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in late August, immediately after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech.

On Monday, the Pentagon said its 700,000 civilian employees will have to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22.

The Pentagon did not set a deadline for when all service members must be vaccinated and instead allowed each branch to make that determination.

The Army is requiring service members to be vaccinated by June 30.

The Navy on Aug. 30 gave active-duty sailors and Marines 90 days to get vaccinated and reservists 120 days.

The Air Force has required active-duty personnel to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 2 and all Air National Guard and reserve members will have to be vaccinated by Dec. 2.

More than 380,000 service members were partially vaccinated as of Sept. 30, and 1.3 million were fully inoculated, according to Pentagon data.

In an updated version of the complaint filed Wednesday, the plaintiffs argued that the mandate imposes “unconstitutional conditions by forcing Plaintiffs to choose between violation of their constitutional rights or facing life-altering punishments.”

The complaint also seeks a court ruling that says the FDA’s approval of Pfizer’s vaccine is unconstitutional.  

In addition to Austin, the suit names Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock as defendants.

The FDA told The Hill that it does not comment on possible, pending or ongoing litigation.

The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon and the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

Powell’s lawsuit isn’t the first to challenge the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate. Two service members filed a suit in a Colorado federal court last week attempting to block the agency from requiring all troops to be vaccinated.

The legal challenges follow multiple lawsuits filed by Powell last year alleging that the 2020 election was rigged against former President Trump.

Earlier this year she was hit with a $1.3 billion lawsuit from voting technology company Dominion Voting Systems for claiming without evidence that the company rigged the election.