Air Force taken to task for 'systematic' denial of religious accommodations

Air Force taken to task for 'systematic' denial of religious accommodations

Air Force taken to task for 'systematic' denial of religious accommodations

A religious liberty legal group is praising an appeals court for rejecting a challenge by the Air Force to overturn a ban on President Biden's shot mandate.

In July, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew McFarland in Cincinnati issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the Biden administration from enforcing the COVID-19 shot mandate on some 10,000 unvaccinated Air Force service members. McFarland's order covered Air Force, Space Force, and Air National Guard personnel who have requested religious exemptions.

On Friday, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Department of the Air Force's attempt to overturn class certification and a class-wide preliminary injunction that protects the entire U.S. Air Force while the lawsuit continues against the Department of Defense COVID shot mandate.

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, explains the Air Force wanted to overturn McFarland's injunction, arguing there was insufficient information for a class action. The appeals court disagreed.

Staver, Mat (Liberty Counsel) Staver

"The [Sixth Circuit] upheld the injunction down below and said that the record shows what the lower-court judge found – [specifically] that is there is a systematic process of denial of religious accommodations by the Department of Defense and the Air Force," he says. "Consequently, they upheld this injunction to apply to the class."

According to Staver, the appeals court also suggested that the injunction should be focused on abolishing altogether the discriminatory policy under which all the religious accommodation requests have been denied.

"So, it's a great victory for the men and women in the United States Air Force," the Liberty Counsel founder concludes. "It also has precedential value – and certainly persuasive value – for all the other class actions that are ongoing right now."

As for those other class actions against injection mandates, Staver predicts they will "continue to crumble one by one in the courts."