NEWS & ANALYSIS

Federal Judge Blocks Air Force From Discharging Service Member Over Vaccine Refusal


A federal judge in Georgia blocked the Air Force from discharging a service member who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

In a preliminary injunction issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Tilman Self III ordered the Air Force to refrain from taking “any adverse action” against the unnamed Air Force officer on the basis of “this lawsuit or her request for religious accommodation, specifically including forcing her to retire,” The Hill reports

“Given ‘the Nation’s essential commitment to religious freedom[,]’ Plaintiff’s harm – a constitutional injury involving her right to freely exercise her religion – is not a mere trivial grievance,” Self wrote in a rebuke of the mandate. 

“And, what real interest can our military leaders have in furthering a requirement that violates the very document they swore to support and defend?” the judge continued. “The Court is unquestionably confident that the Air Force will remain healthy enough to carry out its critical national defense mission even if Plaintiff remains unvaccinated and is not forced to retire.” 

The case in question was filed in January by the Thomas Moore Society on behalf of the service member, who says they served for over 25 years.  The organization said that the service member objected to the COVID-19 vaccination on the grounds of religion and because they have natural immunity to COVID-19 from prior infection. In December, she was denied a request for religious accommodation and filed the lawsuit a month later. 

As previously reported by Human Events News, the Air Force last week granted the first round of religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Air Force granted eight religious accommodations and one religious accommodation appeal. 

A total of 5,786 members have submitted religious accommodation requests, 3,665 of which have been denied. 

“The Department of the Air Force determined the service members’ accommodations could be supported with no impact to mission readiness,” Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said in a statement.