The federal judge rules that an air force officer does not need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
The federal judge rules that an air force officer does not need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

The federal judge rules that an air force officer does not need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

The judge ordered a preliminary injunction preventing the Department of Defense and the Air Force from enforcing the military’s vaccine mandate on the anonymous officer.

This is the first injunction that has blocked the military’s vaccine mandate from being enforced on any individual member of active duty or reserve service, the Thomas More Society, which represents the officer, said in a statement. In a separate federal case in Texas, a judge ruled that a group of Navy SEALs claiming a religious exemption from the vaccine could not be subjected to a negative action by the Navy.

The anonymous officer in the Georgia case said the vaccine mandate violated her religious beliefs. She applied for religious dispensation in the fall of 2021 before the Air Force vaccine deadline, but her request was denied. She appealed the decision, but her complaint was also dismissed. She was given three days to decide whether to get the vaccine or apply for early retirement. She opted for early retirement according to court documents.

The officer has been in the military for 25 years and is currently a member of the Air Force Reserves, according to court documents.

Judge Tilman Self ruled that the vaccine mandate violated the officer’s religious freedom.

“What real interest can our military leaders have in advancing a claim that violates the very document they swore to support and defend?” Self wrote in his order.

“All Americans, especially the Court, want our country to maintain a military force strong enough to thoroughly destroy any enemy that dares to challenge it. But we also want a military force strong enough to respect and protect its the constitutional and statutory religious rights of service members, “Self wrote. “This judgment ensures that our armed services continue to perform both.”

The Department of Defense has said the military’s vaccine mandate is crucial to maintaining the readiness of U.S. troops. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. said Mark Milley in its first note to members of the service, when the mandate was introduced in August, that “the health and readiness of our forces are essential to the defense of the United States.”

The Air Force Department is aware of the verdict and will abide by the court’s ruling, “until the case is legally resolved,” Air Force spokesman Laurel Tingley told CNN in a statement.

While the ruling applies only to the one officer who filed the lawsuit, the order in her favor could encourage other challenges to the mandate.

The Air Force has granted 3,256 exemptions to the military vaccine mandate as of Monday, according to data from the Department of Air Force. Eight religious exceptions have been approved, 2,664 are pending, and 3,381 religious exceptions have been denied according to the data. There are a further 869 religious exceptions pending appeal, an appeal approved and 536 exceptions rejected on appeal.

Out of the total air force, including members of active duty, reserve and air force national guard, 96.1% are according to the data fully vaccinated per. February 14th.

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