Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Air Force Reservist With Religious Objection To COVID Vaccine Wins Injunction

In Poffenbarger v. Kendall, (SD OH, Feb. 28, 2022), an Ohio federal district court issued a preliminary injunction barring the Air Force from taking further adverse action against an Air Force reservist who refuses for religious reasons to comply with the military's COVID vaccine mandate.  The court concluded that plaintiff's rights under both RFRA and the free exercise clause were violated, saying in part:

Defendants have not shown that the Air Force’s action meets the least-restrictive-means test. The evidence indicates that the Air Force has granted virtually zero exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on religious grounds.... At the same time, the Air Force has granted thousands of exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on non-religious grounds.... This supports that less restrictive means of furthering the Air Force’s interests are being provided (even if only on a “temporary” basis) on non-religious grounds. And, the Defendants have not shown why such less restrictive means cannot likewise be provided to Poffenbarger.

Springfield News-Sun reports on the decision.