Wichita airmen join lawsuit in face of discharge for COVID-19 vaccine mandates

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2021, file photo provided by the Department of Defense, Hickam 15th...
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2021, file photo provided by the Department of Defense, Hickam 15th Medical Group hosts the first COVID-19 mass vaccination on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Military service members must immediately begin to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, ordering service leaders to “impose ambitious timelines for implementation.” (U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr./Department of Defense via AP)(Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson | AP)
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 11:21 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - As some face discharge for their choice to not get vaccinated against COVID-19, 36 airmen have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration.

On Tuesday, March 8, Alliance for Free Citizens says 36 airmen currently on active duty in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Omaha, Neb.

The suit challenges the legality of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on service members. Alliance For Free Citizens said this is the largest lawsuit filed to date against the proposed mandates.

Court documents indicate all 36 airmen applied for a religious exemption to the mandate due to the vaccine violating their sincerely held religious beliefs. Currently, most have had their request rejected while several are on the verge of discharge.

The suit seeks a judgment that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate violates both the Free Excercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

According to court documents the airmen are stationed at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb., and McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.

“The facts presented in this suit are particularly compelling. Nearly half of the plaintiffs. Nearly half of the plaintiffs—17—are pilots,” explained Kris Kobach. “American taxpayers have invested roughly $5.5 million to train each of them. Firing them would represent a massive waste of taxpayer dollars and manhours.”

Alliance for Free Citizens said Kris Kobach, its General Counsel, is the lead attorney representing the airmen. The plaintiffs are also represented by attorneys from the America First Policy Institute.

“No member of the military should have to choose between following his or her religious convictions and continuing to serve the country they love. It’s a travesty when the very men and women who defend our Constitution from external threats are seeing their own constitutional liberties trampled,” concluded Kobach.

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