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Navy SEALs to U.S. Supreme Court: Don’t Let the Navy Punish Us Any Further

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March 14, 2022

News Release
For Immediate Release: 3.14.22
Contact: Peyton Luke, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

Navy SEALs to U.S. Supreme Court: Don’t Let the Navy Punish Us Any Further
Elite service members ask Justices to respect their religious freedom, reject Biden administration action seeking to punish them for seeking accommodation from vaccine

Washington, DC—Attorneys with First Liberty Institute and Hacker Stephens LLP today asked the Supreme Court of the United States to reject an emergency motion from the Biden administration seeking to stay a preliminary injunction that prevents the Department of Defense from punishing 35 Navy SEALs and other special warfare personnel who have religious objections to the Department’s vaccine mandate.  The preliminary injunction, issued in January by federal district court judge Reed O’Connor, was recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

You can read the brief here.

“Our clients are willing to make tremendous sacrifices to protect their fellow warriors and our freedoms,” said Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute. “Our hope is that the Supreme Court will reject this punitive action by the Biden administration and respect the religious liberty of our clients.  No member of the military should be forced to sacrifice the very rights they fight to protect to be able to serve.”

In his preliminary injunction order issued in January, Judge Reed O’Connor said, “The Navy service members 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.”

Today’s response states, “While judges should not presume to run the military, neither may courts turn a blind eye to violations of the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). And the Navy cannot cloak its desire to punish plaintiffs for requesting religious accommodation in claimed ‘operational’ needs without judicial scrutiny. Allowing blind deference to military preferences, as the Navy urges, would rewrite RFRA. Only Congress may do that. And it would be inappropriate to create new legal doctrine in this procedural posture.”

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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 Peyton Luke at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453

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