TX Court Grants Navy Class Certification Protection from Shot Mandate

Mar 29, 2022

FORT WORTH, TX — A U.S. District Court of Texas has granted class certification and a class-wide preliminary injunction to protect Navy personnel who have requested religious accommodations from the COVID shot mandate. 

Therefore, the Navy cannot discipline or discharge any personnel who have requested religious accommodations from the shot under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). 

In his order, Judge Reed O'Connor stated, “The Navy has substantially burdened each class members’ religious beliefs by threatening his job and ‘putting substantial pressure on [the] adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs.’…The Named Plaintiffs and potential class members have all been harmed in essentially the same way. Each is subject to the Navy’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Each has submitted her religious accommodation request, and none has received accommodation. Without relief, each servicemember faces the threat of discharge and the consequences that accompany it. Even though their personal circumstances may factually differ in small ways, the threat is the same—get the jab or lose your job. By uniformly denying potential class members’ religious accommodation requests, the Navy has “acted . . . on grounds that apply generally to the class.’ And because potential class members may receive relief from a single injunction, the claim is appropriate for class-wide resolution under Rule 23(b)(2).”

As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court granting a partial stay last Friday that focused solely on deployment in the case of Navy SEALS 1-26 v. Austin, Judge O’Connor’s injunction does not prevent the Navy from making deployment and assignment decisions, but the Navy cannot discipline or discharge personnel because they remain unvaccinated for religious reasons. 

Liberty Counsel continues to press for class certification for members of all branches of the military in the case of Navy SEAL 1 v. Austin. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This order vindicates religious free exercise protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment which the Department of Defense has violated with this unlawful COVID shot mandate. This is a great victory for religious freedom, especially for these Navy service members who love God and love America. We commend this Texas court for recognizing the unconstitutional way the military is treating these honorable service members.” 

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