A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

U.S. sixth Circuit rules in favor of airmen seeking religious exemption from COVID vaccine

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has ruled in favor of 18 airmen this week who are seeking a religious exemption from the Air Force’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The ruling prevents the Air Force from disciplining the airmen for acting in accordance with their religious beliefs.

“Three months ago, my office filed a brief in federal court supporting the religious liberty of airmen who sought a religious exemption to the Air Force’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said. “This decision is significant because it protects the airmen from discipline or termination for exercising their sincerely held beliefs and upholds the fundamental right to religious liberty enshrined in our laws.”

In September, Cameron led 21 states in filing an amicus brief, urging the Sixth Circuit to protect the religious liberty rights of military service members. The Sixth Circuit agreed with his arguments, finding that the Air Force’s vaccine mandate likely violates the airmen’s religious liberty rights provided under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The court’s ruling notes that while the Air Force technically offers a religious exemption from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, it “has granted zero religious exemptions to anyone who does not plan to leave the service within a year.”

The Sixth Circuit also explains that the Air Force issued “a direct military order commanding” the airmen to “act against their faiths” and points out that the Air Force’s arguments, in this case, reveal “a lack of sensitivity to the foundational rights at stake.”

In addition to Cameron, the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, all joined him in the amicus brief.

To view the court’s ruling, click here.

To see a copy of the amicus brief, click here.”>To see a copy of the amicus brief, click here.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment