St. Mary's Law Journal


The COVID-19 pandemic provided uncertain and challenging circumstances under which to lead a nation and the military that protects it. Those in charge and in command faced unique challenges—scientific, ethical, and legal—at our various levels of government to both keep people safe while keeping government and society functioning. While there were many successes to celebrate, there are also many criticisms for how this “whole-of-government approach” may have degraded some of our most cherished liberties along the way. The authors focus on the U.S. military’s vaccine mandate and propose military leaders may have failed to fully consider the evolving science, weigh the prevailing ethics, and appropriately apply the relevant law regarding exemptions, and instead adopted a more uniform approach that aligned with other federal agencies and not to the military’s unique population. And along the way, military leaders lost some of the trust and the faith of those they were seeking to protect, prompting the other two branches of government, the Judiciary and Congress, to intervene. Drawing from our diverse experiences as both practitioners and academics, this Article not only seeks to document the past but also provides some suggestions for the future should we face another such pandemic.

First Page


Last Page


Date Created



St. Mary's University School of Law


Maximiliano Elizondo

Suppress Author Email on Cover Page