Press Releases

Navy SEALs File Federal Lawsuit Against Biden Administration for Denying Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Mandate

November 9, 2021

News Release
For Immediate Release: 11.9.21
Contact: Lacey McNiel,
Direct: 972-941-4453

Navy SEALs File Federal Lawsuit Against Biden Administration for Denying Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Mandate
Elite service members face harassment, punishment for seeking religious exemptions to Covid-19 vaccine mandate

Ft. Worth, TX—Today, First Liberty Institute filed a federal lawsuit 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 exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

You can read the complaint here.

“The fact that the government has not granted a single religious exemption from the vaccine mandate shows that the Biden Administration does not care about religious freedom.  Instead, this appears to be an attempted ideological purge.  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. “After all these elite warriors have done to defend our freedoms, the Navy is now threatening their careers, families, and finances.  It’s appalling and it has to stop before any more harm is done to our national security.”

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 exemption 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.

In its Complaint, First Liberty attorneys allege that the Department of Defense is violating the First Amendment to the Constitution, federal law, and Department of Defense regulations.  The Vaccine Mandate substantially burdens the SEALs’ free exercise of religion, and the Department of Defense has failed to prove it has a compelling government interest, or that there are no less restrictive ways to further its effort to mitigate the Covid-19 virus.


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.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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