Judge grants temporary injunction against COVID vax mandate for airmen seeking religious exemption

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew McFarland, of the Southern District of Ohio, granted a 14-day injunction in case.

Updated: July 14, 2022 - 3:43pm

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A district court judge in Ohio granted a temporary injunction Thursday against the Air Force's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all of the branch's members requesting a religious exemption. 

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew McFarland, of the Southern District of Ohio, granted the 14-day injunction in the case of Doster v. Kendall, giving the government seven days to respond and explain "why this Court should not grant a class-wide preliminary injunction," according to the court order. 

Under the injunction, which applies to the entire Air Force and Space Force, including the Air Force Reserve, no punishment, discipline, or adverse action may be taken against service members who submitted a Religious Accommodation Request for exemption from the vaccine mandate. 

"This is a huge victory for many of my Air Force clients," said R. Davis Younts, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves and a Judge Advocate General's Corps lawyer privately representing several military members seeking the exemptions. "Another federal judge has found that 'The facts show Defendants have engaged in a pattern of denying religious accommodation requests.'

"The Judge also noted 'Thus, the putative class members face the same injury: violation of their constitutional freedom by Defendants' clear policy of discrimination against religious accommodation requests.'

"My clients and I are grateful for the attorneys working on this case and the efforts they have made for religious freedom in the military. While the current temporary restraining order is set to last for 14 days we anticipate that it will be extended."

Younts told Just the News that he had several Air Force clients who have administrative hearings already scheduled and that if the injunction stands, it will prevent the Air Force from discharging them because of their religious faith while federal litigation regarding alleged Air Force violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Constitutional rights of military members are addressed.

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