Court Orders DOD Response by Today in Navy SEAL 1 v. Biden

Feb 2, 2022

Liberty Counsel filed a request for an emergency motion for temporary restraining order in Navy SEAL 1 v. Biden yesterday on behalf of two service members who will suffer immediate and irreparable injury, and as a result, federal Judge Steven Merryday ordered the Department of Defense to respond today by 5 p.m. 

On October 15, 2021, Liberty Counsel sued Joseph R. Biden, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on behalf of members from five branches of the military, federal employees and civilian contractors who have been unlawfully discriminated against regarding religious exemptions and accommodations from the COVID shot mandate. The plaintiffs’ religious exemptions have been denied, and they face discharge, court martial, or termination. Liberty Counsel later filed an amended complaint in its lawsuit against the COVID shot mandates by adding additional 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.

Regarding yesterday’s request for a temporary restraining order, the first plaintiff who faces immediate discipline and discharge is a U.S. Navy Command Surface Warfare Officer. As of tomorrow, this officer will be removed from command of his ship, irreparably damaging his career because he was denied a religious exemption from the COVID shot.  The Navy denied this officer’s appeal seeking a religious exemption on January 28, 2022, and ordered him to begin a vaccination series within five days (by February 2), or else report to a Navy immunization clinic for vaccination on February 3. Because his request for religious exemption has been finally denied, he has no further rights of appeal and will be removed from his command of a guided missile destroyer. 

The second plaintiff is a U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel 2 who faces immediate and irreparable harm beginning today as she will be added to the Officer Disciplinary Notebook, and her command selection will be withdrawn, irreparably damaging her career, if she remains unvaccinated as of that date.  The Marines denied this Lieutenant Colonel 2’s appeal seeking a religious exemption on January 26, 2022, and ordered her to begin a vaccination series within five business days (by February 2). 

These two plaintiffs are only the beginning as other military class members have received final denials of their appeals from their initial denials, and their irreversible vaccinate-or-separate choices are imminent. 

After the November 15 hearing, Judge Merryday ordered each branch of the military to file a detailed report every 14 days beginning January 7, 2022, regarding the total number of religious exemption requests; the aggregate number of denials, denials where belief found sincere, appeals pending, denials where appeal time has passed and number of successful appeals; the total number of medical exemptions; other exemptions granted and the number of disciplinary proceedings and actions taken after denial in an appeal. These reports reveal that the military continues to deny religious exemptions for service members.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The Biden administration and the Department of Defense have no legal right to deny the religious exemptions and accommodations from the COVID shots for the military. Our service members need immediate relief from these mandates.”

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