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Supreme Court rejects appeal from Airman facing punishment over refusal to take COVID-19 vaccine

The Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal from a member of the Air Force Reserve who was punished over his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Lt. Col. Jonathan Dunn’s request for a religious exemption was previously rejected by the Air Force and he was removed from command after objecting to the vaccine. 

Three conservative Justices – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch – would have granted the request to put Dunn’s punishment on hold while litigation continues. 

The Pentagon rolled out its vaccine mandate for all service members last August, arguing that it’s necessary to maintain military readiness. 

Lt. Col. Dunn, who has served in the Air Force since 2003, filed the emergency appeal with the Supreme Court on April 9, noting that he “acquired natural immunity to the disease” after contracting coronavirus last summer and “has sincere religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine” 


Monday’s ruling comes after the Supreme Court ruled against 35 Navy SEALs last month who challenged the vaccine mandate. 

US Luke Air Force Base, home of the 56th Fighter Wing, is pcitured in  Phoenix, Arizona, on February 26, 2021.

The same three Justices who objected to Lt. Col. Dunn’s punishment in Monday’s ruling sided with the 35 Navy SEALs in March. 

In the earlier case, Justice Alito wrote that the high court “does a great injustice” to the 35 Navy SEALs by “rubberstamping the Government’s request.”

“These individuals appear to have been treated shabbily by the Navy, and the Court brushes all that aside,” Alito wrote.

The United States Supreme Court in Washington. 

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that he agreed with the court’s decision for a “simple overarching reason.” 

“Under Article II of the Constitution, the President of the United States, not any federal judge, is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces,” Kavanaugh wrote. 

Fox News’s Shannon Bream and Bill Mears contributed to this report 

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