For Immediate Release: 2.6.23
Contact: Peyton Luke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Navy Service Members Refused Religious Accommodation from Vaccine Mandate Make Case to Fifth Circuit
At oral argument, attorneys tell court Navy’s refusal to grant religious accommodation, continued punishment violate federal law
New Orleans, LA—Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was urged to uphold a lower court decision as the U.S. Navy continues to punish and discriminate against Navy personnel based on their religious beliefs even after the Department of Defense rescinded the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Attorneys with First Liberty Institute and Hacker Stephens LLP represent the service members.
“Unfortunately, the DOD vaccine mandate’s repeal doesn’t stop the Navy from continuing its hostile treatment of service members of faith,” said Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute. “For over a year, the injunction was the only thing that prevented the Navy from punishing or separating more than 4000 service members. The classwide injunction continues to protect them and we hope the Fifth Circuit will uphold it.”
In November 2021, First Liberty Institute and Hacker Stephens LLP 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. In January 2022, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted the injunction, later expanding it to cover all Navy personnel. Last week, attorneys submitted a brief to the Fifth Circuit describing how the U.S. Navy continues punish and discriminate against Navy personnel despite Congress’s repeal of the vaccine mandate.
Heather Hacker of Hacker Stephens argued on behalf of the service members.
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.
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