Air Force Members File Lawsuit Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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  • 03/02/2023

A group of Air Force service members filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense and the head of the Air Force to block them from discharging members who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The members are seeking a “class wide temporary restraining order” to protect members who apply for religious exemptions, Just the News reports

Hundreds of members have already been discharged for refusing the vaccine. 

“At a time of instability and ever-increasing threats around the world, you’d think the Pentagon would want every service member at their post,” Mike Berry, director of military affairs for First Liberty Institute - which is helping represent plaintiffs - said. “But instead, military leaders are forcing tens of thousands of our bravest out of the service because they’ve chosen to live according to their faith. Punishing these service members for seeking religious accommodation is illegal, vindictive, and wrong. Religious liberty is essential to national security, and our service members deserve better.”

“Plaintiffs each have sincere religious beliefs that prohibit them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” the lawsuit reads. “Each submitted an RAR, and each request has been denied. Even before the initial denials, though, Defendants began their discriminatory course of conduct against Plaintiffs and other requesters. Plaintiffs have lost promotions that had already been announced, received official discipline, been barred from training opportunities, and placed in a no-pay status, to name only a few kinds of the harm they have already endured.”

As previously reported by Human Events News, a group of Navy SEALs filed a similar lawsuit, also represented by the First Liberty Institute. 

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in March to expand a preliminary injunction to stop the Department of Defense from taking action against any Navy personnel who refused the vaccine.

“Here, the potential class members have suffered the ‘same injury,’ arising from violations of their constitutional rights,” Judge Reed O’Connor said in his ruling. “Each has submitted a religious accommodation request, and each has had his request denied, delayed, or dismissed on appeal. Exactly zero requests have been granted. And while Defendants encourage this Court to disregard the data, it is hard to imagine a more consistent display of discrimination. As previously explained in this Court’s preliminary injunction order, Plaintiffs have suffered the serious injury of infringement of their religious liberty rights under RFRA and the First Amendment.”

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