EDITO: A judge restores the freedom of airmen | Editorials

The US Constitution and courts should not care about popular sentiment, conventional wisdom or political pressure. Floating microorganisms do not change this fact. Our judicial system should only care about the Constitution, which creates an equal set of rules by which we make decisions.

The First Amendment prevents the federal government from making laws that “prohibit the free exercise of religion…”

This means that one can stand in a public park with a Quran and demand that we obey Sharia. This means that a Catholic doctor can refuse to perform abortions. This means US Representative Ilhan Omar could wear a hijab in the US Capitol.

Generally, unless it causes imminent harm to another – that is, running a red light because Jesus ordered it – the courts err on the side of those who defend their actions on the basis of religious freedom.

Authoritarians generally despise this law because, when combined with the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, it does more than anything else to limit the power of government.

The Constitution was written exclusively to limit the authority of government. Allowing individuals to answer to a power above the mayor, governor, legislature, or most senior generals intentionally limits authority.

Authoritarian societies absolutely cannot respect the free exercise of religion. The doctrine prevents a small group of individuals from controlling how others think, live, and communicate.

Religion is state-run in communist China, and those who do not believe in government demands risk torture and slavery. Just ask Uyghur Muslims and Christians in Xin Jiang Province.

Although “Buddha said get away from the cops” won’t work, freedom of religion upheld the right of the Amish to give up cars and drive horse-drawn carriages on public roads. Muhammad Ali convinced the United States Supreme Court that he had the right to avoid enlistment in the Vietnam War because he violated his religious beliefs.

Given our country’s founding principle and precedent of respect for religious beliefs, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew McFarland issued an injunction against the Air Force last week.

His order prevents, at least for the duration of full arbitration, the continued punishment of three 2022 Air Force Academy graduates who refused a forced COVID vaccine based on religious objections.

The academy allowed the cadets to graduate but refused to appoint them as officers. He threatened to charge each graduate hundreds of thousands in tuition fees that the government typically covers. With this order, the Air Force must commission graduates and end financial threats.

“Defendants shall not place or maintain active reservists without points or pay for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 due to their sincere religious beliefs; and Defendants shall not refuse to accept for commissioning or enlistment any person inducted or appointed because of their refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 because of their sincere religious beliefs,” it reads. in the order.

The order confirms the First Amendment and Department of Defense Instruction 1300.17:

“Service members have the right to observe the tenets of their religion or to observe no religion at all… DoD components will welcome individual expressions of honest beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) that have not no negative impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, good order and discipline, or health and safety. The expression of such beliefs by a service member shall not, to the extent possible, be used as the basis for adverse personal action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, education, training, or employment. assignment.

The political moralization of vaccines, precipitated into creation by former President Donald Trump, cannot override the Constitution or Air Force rules. Thanks to our federal court system, the law trumps popular sentiment, conventional wisdom and political pressure. We remain the land of the free for those who have the courage to defend freedoms guaranteed by law.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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