Press Releases

Legal Group Vows to Continue Fight for Navy SEALs After Federal Appellate Court Issues Opinion

July 7, 2023

News Release
For Immediate Release: 7.7.23
Contact: Peyton Luke,
Direct: 972-941-4453 

Legal Group Vows to Continue Fight for Navy SEALs After Federal Appellate Court Issues Opinion
Servicemembers still face punishment for seeking religious accommodation to Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

New Orleans, LAIn a 2-1 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion stating that an appeal of a preliminary injunction issued against the Department of Defense and Secretary of the Navy, which prevented them from involuntarily separating or punishing U.S. Navy servicemembers who have religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, is moot because the mandate was repealed by Congress and the Navy subsequently repealed the policies the district court enjoined.

The following statement may be attributed to Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel for First Liberty Institute:

We are extremely surprised and disappointed that the court gave the Navy’s horrible treatment of our Nation’s finest warriors a free pass.  We have defeated the Navy at every stage and now that Congress forced the Navy to comply with the Constitution the Navy is running scared.  As Judge Ho said in his dissent, “cowards never start, the weak never finish, winners never quit.”  These faithful SEALs have shown that they will not quit—and that they deserve to win.  They won’t quit, so we won’t either.

The following statement may be attributed to Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute:

After Congress forced the Navy to repeal the mandate, the Navy was so scared of losing this appeal that they frantically repealed discriminatory policies to address weaknesses in their position that we repeatedly pointed out to the court. Make no mistake, we succeeded in forcing the Navy to repeal their discriminatory policies and we will continue to fight in the district court for the rights of our Nation’s finest warriors and the sailors they represent against the Navy’s religious discrimination.

In January 2022, First Liberty Institute and the law firm Hacker Stephens LLP won the first injunction against the military’s vaccine mandate in Navy SEALs v. Biden.  First Liberty filed the lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction on behalf of dozens of U.S. Navy SEALs and other Naval Special Warfare personnel.

The lawsuit will now continue in the district court.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Peyton Luke at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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