- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2022

A pro-Trump legal group is suing the Biden administration on behalf of three dozen members of the Air Force, arguing that COVID-19 vaccine mandates for service members are discriminatory — especially at a time of national security concerns.

America First Policy Institute, representing 36 members of the Air Force, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, arguing the feds are not honoring religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The 54-page complaint said out of 4,637 requests for religious exemptions, only 17 have been granted — and in those cases, the service member was about to retire or separate from the military.

The legal group claims the service members’ First Amendment rights are being violated and asked the court to block the mandate and rule it unconstitutional.

“Defendants’ policies and actions are particularly troubling because they undermine American military strength at a time when the country faces three geopolitical crises—the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chinese ambitions regarding Taiwan, and an Iran armed with nuclear weapons,” the lawsuit read.

They say more than a dozen pilots were specially trained, at a cost of $93 million to taxpayers, for their education, and those pilots may now not be able to serve due to the feds’ mandate and refusal to honor a shot exemption.

A spokesperson from the Justice Department declined to comment. 

Pam Bondi, chair of America First Policy Institute’s Constitutional Litigation Partnership, said they stand with the military members fighting for religious liberty.

“No one, including our military members, should have their religious beliefs questioned — nor should they be forced to take a vaccine that conflicts with their spiritual convictions. These service members have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedoms, and now it is our turn to protect theirs,” she said.

This is one of many challenges from members of the military against the government’s shot mandate and lack of meaningful religious exemptions.

A lawsuit involving dozens of members of the Navy is pending before the Supreme Court after a lower court issued an injunction against the feds’ vaccine mandate for several Navy SEALs challenging the requirement.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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