Injunction Issued Against Air Force in Mandatory Vaccination Case

A District Court judge has issued a restraining order against the Air force from taking action against a class of people refusing to take the COVID vaccination.

Mandatory Vaccination: Submit or Leave

The Biden Administration has been dogged in seeking to take action against federal employees and military personnel who do not voluntarily submit to the president’s decision to require vaccinations against COVID-19.

With the American culture of freedom and individual independence, it is not surprising that there are a number of Americans, including federal employees, rejecting a mandatory vaccination directive ordering them to get vaccinated.

In effect, those who refuse to take the vaccine based on concerns about the safety of the vaccine or who may have religious objections to the vaccine are ignored. There are potential ramifications for those who work for the federal government when the administration has taken a very hard position against those who have refused to comply.

Preliminary Injunction Issued Against Mandatory Vaccination of Air Force Class

Here are significant recent developments as the vaccine mandates are challenged in court.

On July 14, a US District Court Judge issued a temporary restraining order against the Air Force regarding the vaccine mandate. He directed the Air Force to make its case while also issuing a preliminary injunction prohibiting taking discipline against airmen seeking religious exemptions to the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio entered the order banning the enforcement of the vaccine mandate in Doster v. Kendall. The order will remain in effect until a full trial is held and follows a temporary restraining order entered on July 14, 2022.

The July 27th order prohibits taking disciplinary or separation measures against the class of people who have refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine. The decision also stays any court-martials in process.

An earlier decision in this case granted “class status”. This class included Air Force personnel who submitted a religious accommodation request from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate from September 1, 2021 and were confirmed via the Air Force Chaplains as having a sincerely held religious belief, but had their requests denied or that the Air Force had not yet decided.

The Plaintiffs in this case had asserted this class would include over 12,000 airmen. The lead plaintiff in the case, 2nd Lieutenant Hunter Doster, and more than a dozen others asserted the Air Force is forcing them to lose their jobs or violate their religious beliefs by requiring them to take a vaccine they contend has ties to abortion.

Lieutenant General Kevin Schneider, director of staff for the Air Force’s headquarters, told the court the unvaccinated were “at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and substantially more likely to develop severe symptoms resulting in hospitalization or death.” Exempting those with religious exemptions “would pose a significant and unprecedented risk to military readiness and our ability to defend the nation.”

Judge Andrew McFarland disagreed and wrote: “Defendants fail to raise any persuasive arguments for why the court should not extend the preliminary injunction issued on March 31, 2022 to cover the Class Members.”

Government attorneys argued the federal court lacked the jurisdiction to rule on military decisions. In response to this, Judge McFarland wrote, “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is,” citing the Supreme Court’s decision Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 177 (1803).

Stephen Crampton, a Thomas More Society Senior Counsel and one of the attorneys representing the airmen in a similar case against the Air Force stated:

 “The vaccine mandates have been a disaster for the country, for the military, and especially for those with deeply held religious convictions. The Air Force’s insistence on forcing all of its members to take an experimental injection – one which has been proven again and again not to prevent infection – over the sincere objections of people of faith, is both unconscionable and unconstitutional.”

Appeals to Continue on Mandatory Vaccination Requirements

The Biden administration has vigorously pursued cases in court to try to ensure the vaccine mandates remain in effect. There is little doubt that this is the final decision in this case which involves a large number of people and directly contradicts the authority of the government to issue the mandatory vaccination requirements.

The large number of cases that are going to court for resolution highlight the strong resistance from a number of Americans to such a government mandate despite most taking the vaccination—some of whom feared the disease and some who feared losing their job.

Despite the passage of time, and new data emerging pointing to concerns about some of the vaccinations, the cases are still ongoing and likely to continue for some time before a final resolution.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47