Justices Won’t Block Removal of Air Force Officer Who Refused COVID Vaccine

Justices Won't Block Removal of Air Force Officer Who Refused COVID Vaccine Justices Won't Block Removal of Air Force Officer Who Refused COVID Vaccine

(Graeme Sloan/Sipa via AP Images)

By Jay Clemons | Monday, 18 April 2022 06:16 PM

The Supreme Court on Monday denied the injunction request of an Air Force Reserve officer who asked to be shielded from disciplinary action over his religious-based refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Citing this tweet, the court's brief response included the following:

''The applications for an injunction pending appeal presented to Justice [Elena] Kagan and by her referred to the Court is denied.''

It's worth noting, however, that for the dissent, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch — three historically conservative judges on the Supreme Court — were prepared to grant Lt. Col. Jonathan Dunn's exemption appeal.

Dunn had been removed from his Air Force command after refusing to comply with the militarywide health policy that was implemented in August 2021.

According to The Hill, Dunn had a unique legal argument compared with the litany of other religious-based challenges against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In court papers, Dunn argued that government leaders had painted the vaccine as a moral obligation and thereby caused it to take on a ''sacramental quality,'' which, in turn, violated his religious conviction.

''That makes COVID-19 vaccination a religious ritual required as a condition of participating fully in civil society — like ancient Roman laws requiring sacrifices to Caesar, or Nebuchadnezzar's edict requiring worship of the golden statue,'' Dunn's lawyers told the justices.

''After much prayer, applicant concluded that he cannot participate in such a religious ritual — and thus cannot take the vaccine — because, as a Christian, he must render worship to God only.''

The Department of Defense asked the Supreme Court to deny Dunn's request, emphasizing the need for military readiness.

DOD also asserted that Dunn had failed to demonstrate any untold harm that might occur if his exemption bid were denied.

Dunn ''also failed to establish any irreparable harm,'' the Justice Department wrote in court papers on the Pentagon's behalf. ''He has already been removed from his former command — including for reasons of poor judgment and abuse of authority, which justified the removal independent of his refusal to be vaccinated.''

According to Forbes.com, Dunn's request for a religious exemption had been initially denied last November — sharing the fate of 99.3% similar requests made to the Air Force.

Original Article