FT. WORTH, Texas, Jan. 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas today issued a preliminary injunction, stopping the Department of Defense from punishing military service members who have religious objections to the vaccine mandate. First Liberty Institute filed a federal lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction on behalf of dozens of U.S. Navy SEALs and other Naval Special Warfare personnel against the Biden Administration and the Department of Defense for their refusal to grant religious accommodations to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The court’s order can be read here.
“Forcing a service member to choose between their faith and serving their country is abhorrent to the Constitution and America’s values,” said Mike Berry, General Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “Punishing SEALs for simply asking for a religious accommodation is purely vindictive and punitive. We’re pleased that the court has acted to protect our brave warriors before more damage is done to our national security.”
In his order, Judge Reed O’Connor said, “The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect. The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”
The SEALs, who presently serve at various classified and confidential locations, collectively have more than 350 years of military service, and more than 100 combat deployments. When they inquired about seeking religious accommodation for the vaccine, the Navy informed many of the plaintiffs that they could face court-martial or involuntary separation if they don’t receive the vaccine. Each of their religious accommodation denials appear to be identical, suggesting the Navy is not taking their requests seriously. The Navy also warned some of the plaintiffs that if they sought a religious exemption, the Navy would confiscate their Special Warfare devices—such as the famous SEAL “Trident”—that they proudly wear on their uniforms.
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.
SOURCE First Liberty Institute