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Service Members Tell Court Ahead of Hearing They Continue to Suffer Restrictions After Vaccine Mandate Rescinded by Congress

January 30, 2023

News Release
For Immediate Release: 1.30.23
Contact: Peyton Luke,
Direct: 972-941-4453

Service Members Tell Court Ahead of Hearing They Continue to Suffer Restrictions After Vaccine Mandate Rescinded by Congress
Navy personnel originally denied religious accommodation to Covid-19 vaccine mandate face continued harassment, punishment

New Orleans, LA—On Friday, attorneys with First Liberty Institute and Hacker Stephens LLP submitted documents to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit describing how the U.S. Navy continues punish and discriminate against Navy personnel based on their religious beliefs even after the Department of Defense rescinded the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.  Oral argument in Navy SEALs v. Biden is scheduled for Monday, February 6, 2023 at the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

You can read the brief here.

“The Pentagon continues to send the clear message that service members of faith are unwelcome,” said Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute. “Service members with religious objections to the vaccine still face intimidation, hostility, and career-ending actions.  This religious discrimination must stop.  No matter how many stars are on their collar, nobody is above the law.”

Attorneys stated, “Indeed, there is already significant evidence that Defendants intend to continue taking punitive actions against Plaintiffs based on their religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine, including unnecessarily restricting travel necessary for their jobs, demanding repayment of educational expenses and previously awarded and rightfully earned bonuses, and refusing to allow participation in meaningful training opportunities and operational assignments.  All of these actions are required or allowed by Navy guidance that still appears to apply.”

Examples include Lieutenant Levi Beaird, a 2019 of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., with a master’s degree in national security studies, who the Navy is demanding pay back $75,000 of a retention bonus for not fulfilling an obligation the Navy is blocking him from doing because he asked for a religious accommodation to the vaccine mandate.


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 or by calling 972-941-4453.

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