Firefighters and State Troopers Band Together, Sue Their Own Governor in Massive Court Case
Some of Oregon’s bravest and finest are fighting back against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate issued by Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
A group of Oregon State Police troopers and firefighters from Klamath County filed the suit just days after an Oregon State Trooper who called Brown “Miss Governor” was placed on leave for taking to social media with his opposition to the vaccine mandate, according to The Oregonian.
Brown is being sued by the Oregon Fraternal Order of Police along with troopers from various communities around the state and the Kingsley Firefighters Association, which represents Kingsley Field firefighters, according to KOIN-TV.
“This lawsuit has nothing to do with the efficacy of the vaccine at this point,” Dan Thenell, the lawyer representing the troopers and firefighters, told The Oregonian. “It has to do with having their jobs held over their heads.”
“With very few exceptions, none of which apply here, all speech and expressive conduct are constitutionally protected,” the lawsuit said. “Plaintiffs’ right to control their own medical destinies is both expressive speech in the form of opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine, and expressive conduct in opposition to the vaccine mandate.”
The lawsuit said that Oregon law precludes employers from requiring vaccines as a condition of employment. Firing state workers for failure to knuckle under to Brown’s order — as she proposes — is illegal, the suit said.
“The individual plaintiffs are Executive Branch employees … who want to exercise control over their own medical treatment and are being forced to choose between their rights privileges and liberties as citizens on the one hand and their employment, careers, and financial futures on the other,” the suit said.
The group wants the order declared “unenforceable.”
The order calls for all state workers to be vaccinated — or else — by either Oct. 18 or within six weeks after a COVID vaccine receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer’s vaccine received that approval on Aug. 23.
The lawsuit came after Oregon State Police Trooper Zachary Kowing posted a video on Instagram saying he would defy the order.
“I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to protect the freedom of the people who pay my salary,” he said in the video. “I do not work for my governor but for them.”
“I have personal and religious reasons as to why I will not take the vaccine, as well as the freedom to choose not to,” he said.
In the video, he tells those watching they have a choice, “if you’re going to fall in line as sheep or if you’re going to stand up for the rights that we have for the short time we still have them.”
29-yr-old Oregon State Trooper Zachary Kowing is placed on paid leave for making powerful video explaining why he will not be bullied into taking the mandated vaccine: “I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution…I do not work for the governor!” pic.twitter.com/hxZgqikIgM
— @SassyConservativeGirl45 (@SassyConservat1) September 3, 2021
Capt. Stephanie Bigman, a state police spokeswoman, said Kowing is under investigation for violating the state police social media policy, which bans “making any statements, speeches, appearances, and endorsements, or publishing any materials, when such activities could reasonably be considered to represent the views or positions” of the agency “without authorization.”
Thenell, who is Kowing’s attorney, said the trooper “swore an oath to protect peoples’ rights and freedom. He felt it was important for him to stand up and speak for people who may be too afraid or unable to voice their opinions. In other words, he felt this issue was important enough to risk his job.”
Thenell said Kowing opposes not the vaccine, but the mandate.
Kowing spoke for himself, Thenell said, “however, many other troopers share his view.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.