Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Another Court Gives Relief To Military Objectors To COVID Vaccine

Last week, an Ohio federal district court became the latest to grant a preliminary injunction to members of the military who have religious objections to the military's COVID vaccine mandate. In Doster v. Kendall, (SD OH, March 31, 2022), the court said in part:

The Court finds the targeted relief Plaintiffs now seek is "a prohibition against disciplinary or separation measures to these Plaintiffs under RFRA," and thus the Court grants a preliminary injunction of such scope, enjoining Defendants from taking any adverse or punitive action, including but not limited to disciplinary or separation measures, against the Plaintiffs in this case for their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, while keeping in place the current temporary exemption. 

The Court's conclusion is not affected by the Supreme Court's recent decision in Austin v. U.S. Navy Seals 1-26, 2022 WL 882559, or Justice Kavanaugh' s concurrence which cautions against intervention in the military' s chain of command. That case is distinguishable from the present one, and this Court's injunction. As set forth below, the injunction in this case is limited to solely these Plaintiffs and only maintains the status quo by maintaining the current temporary exemptions and prohibiting adverse or punitive action against those Plaintiffs for their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It does not affect the Air Force's ability to make operational decisions, including deployability decisions.

Liberty Counsel issued a press release announcing the decision.