A federal judge in Cincinnati granted a preliminary injunction on Thursday that temporarily blocked the military from penalizing 18 servicemembers for refusing to take the Covid-19 shots due to religious beliefs.
U.S. District Court Judge Matthew McFarland granted an order to block the military temporarily from disciplining 18 U.S. Air Force officers, airmen, and reservists, including 11 who currently or recently served at Wright-Patterson in Dayton, until their lawsuit is resolved.
A federal judge in Cincinnati is stopping Air Force action against 18 servicemembers fighting the COVID-19 vaccine including 11 who currently or recently served at Wright-Patterson in Dayton.
The servicemembers sued earlier this year over the denial of religious accommodations for refusing shots.
The First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) does, in fact, apply to the military, contrary to the assertions of the Biden Justice Department, Judge Matthew McFarland wrote in Thursday’s temporary order.
“From the time our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and, later, the United States Constitution, United States citizens have been provided with the freedom to practice their religious beliefs as they deem fit,” the judge’s decision reads.
“Religious liberty was just as important to those who founded this nation as it is today.”
The attorney for the servicemembers, Chris Wiest, called the order “a victory for religious liberty.”
“We were thrilled with this decision and the opportunity to get to defend the constitutional rights of those who defend all of our constitutional rights.”
The preliminary injunction is not a final ruling, but a request to make this case a class action one is still pending.
Last February, a federal judge in Georgia granted an order to temporarily block the vaccine mandate in support of an Air Force officer whose request for a religious exemption to vaccination was denied. The judge noted, calling it an “abysmal record,” that the Air Force had not granted ANY religious exemptions to anyone.
The judge concluded the order by saying he was “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.”
**By Jim Hoft