U.S. Airmen file lawsuit fighting Biden COVID-19 vaccine mandate
BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - Three dozen active-duty airmen filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Air Force servicemembers.
According to a Tuesday release from the Alliance for Free Citizens, the 36 airmen applied for religious exemptions but were rejected.
Adam Cassidy and Matthew Downing are two of the 36 airmen who’ve asked for religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Likely the approval won’t be coming,” said Adam Cassidy.
Now, they are hoping this lawsuit allows them to continue serving the country.
All 36 airmen are citing religious objections, even though top religious leaders including the Pope, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, and the Dalai Lama are encouraging the vaccine.
“I personally have some moral and conscious issues with the aborted fetal cell lines that were used in the testing and development phases,” said Matthew Downing, Nebraska Air National Guard Pilot.
According to Nebraska Medicine, the vaccine does not contain any aborted fetal cells. During their research, scientists did use cells grown in a lab that were descended from abortions decades ago.
The Alliance for Free Citizens said no military member should have to choose between their religious beliefs and serving their country.
“The religious faith comes from various different branches of Christianity. It’s not as if there’s any, well there’s no pattern at all other than the pattern of the airforce denying virtually every accommodation that is requested,” said Kris Kobach, general counsel for Alliance for Free Citizens.
Some of the airmen are just a few short years away from being able to accept full benefits. If they are discharged, they will lose some of that money — a price they say they are willing to pay in order to stand by their beliefs.
“On a personal level, it’s quite a hit. Not only from a retirement pension but healthcare for me and my family,” Cassidy said. “We just had a child a couple days ago. Certainly, a big deal to lose those benefits that I’ve worked just shy of 20 years for.”
Filed in the U.S. District Court of Omaha, it is “the largest lawsuit filed to date against the recently proposed medical mandates on the U.S. Armed Forces,” the release states.
The airmen — stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, and McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan. — are being represented by General Counsel Kris Kobach and attorneys from the America First Policy Institute, the release states.
“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,” said Kobach, who formerly headed a Trump commission to investigate his allegations of voter fraud in 2016.
Of the 36 filing suit, 17 are pilots, he said.
“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,” Kobach said in the release.
The vaccine mandate for military personnel was put in place in August, with a deadline of Sept. 15. In December, the Air Force announced it had discharged 27 people for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gray News contributed to this report.
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