Shot Mandate Blocked for Some Navy SEALs

Jan 5, 2022

A Texas federal judge granted a temporary injunction this week for 35 Navy SEALs who were unlawfully denied religious exemptions from the unconstitutional federal COVID-19 shot mandate. These SEALs collectively have more than 350 years of military service and more than 100 combat deployments but were told they could face court-martial or involuntary separation if they don’t receive the injection. 

In U.S. Navy SEALS v. Biden, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor wrote: “Thirty-five Navy Special Warfare servicemembers allege that the military’s mandatory vaccination policy violates their religious freedoms under the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Navy provides a religious accommodation process, but by all accounts, it is theater. The Navy has not granted a religious exemption to any vaccine in recent memory. It merely rubber stamps each denial. The Navy servicemembers 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.”

As a result of Liberty Counsel’s separate case, Navy SEAL 1 v. Biden, Florida federal judge Steven Merryday ordered each branch of the military to file a detailed report every 14 days beginning this Friday, January 7, 2022. Liberty Counsel represents plaintiffs from five branches of the military, federal employees, and federal civilian contractors who have been unlawfully mandated to get the COVID shots or face punishment and discharge from the military or termination from employment. The judge’s order also stated that the federal executive orders regarding federal employees and civilian contractors expressly require religious exemption. 

Judge Merryday wrote that the military plaintiffs’ claim that the accommodation process is a ruse are “quite plausible” under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act because the reports filed by the military branches thus far revealed not one of the 16,643 requests for religious accommodation have been granted and hundreds have been denied at the first stage, including one denied at the appeal stage. 

Liberty Counsel will file an amended complaint in Navy SEAL 1 v. Biden with the addition of military plaintiffs, federal employees, and civilian contractors, as well as including the secretaries for each military branch, U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) as defendants. The OPM serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the federal government and the GSA is an independent U.S. government agency that helps manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The amended complaint will also include additional counts against the mandate for federal civilian contractors. 

Following the report due from the military branches on January 7, Liberty Counsel will renew its request to Judge Merryday for the issuance of a preliminary injunction. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The military had a clear choice—voluntarily accommodate those with sincere religious beliefs or be ordered by the court to accommodate sincere religious beliefs. The military has dug in its heels and continues to deny every religious exemption request. The Department of Defense now must report the status and disposition of all religious exemption requests and admit to the court it has not granted any of the thousands of requests. It’s just a matter of time before the military shot mandate crumbles in court.” 



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