The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio sided with around 10,000 service members from the United States Air and Space Forces this week. The ruling protects the service members from disciplinary action for not getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Military.com, when the U.S. Air and Space Forces mandated COVID-19 vaccines for their nearly half million service members, around 10,000 people requested a religious exemption. That was in August of 2021.
Since then, the Air Force has approved only about 135 religious exemption requests. Those requests were only granted to those already planning to leave the service. The 6th Circuit criticized the Air Force for approving so few religious exemptions, while at the same time approving thousands of medical and administrative exemptions.
Court filings show the Air Force issued blanket denials for many seeking religious exemptions. The court also said the Air Force relied too much on its “broadly formulated reasons” to deny requests.
Many people seeking religious exemptions to vaccine mandates object to the use of fetal stem cells in making the shots. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines don’t need fetal cell lines for production, but they were tested for efficacy on a fetal cell line from a fetus aborted in the 1970s. The Novavax vaccine, which was approved in late August by the Pentagon, does not use fetal stem cell lines in its development or testing.
This week’s court ruling could set the stage for either a future trial, or this case appearing before the United States Supreme Court.