Judge Merryday Requests Military Case Returned

Apr 3, 2023

TAMPA, FL –  Federal Judge Steven Merryday has asked the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to send the Marine case, Colonel Financial Management Officer, et. al., v Lloyd Austin, back to him since the Department of Defense (DOD) COVID shot mandate has been rescinded. 

Liberty Counsel was pursuing to convert the classwide preliminary injunction to a permanent injunction for the U.S. Marines. However, Judge Merryday will moot the case but he still retains jurisdiction over the case so Liberty Counsel can file for attorney’s fees and costs. 

Judge Merryday wrote, “The challenged and preliminarily enjoined mandate no longer exists, and the issue unifying the injunctive class no longer exists. . . . an order by the district court (barring some unforeseen event) will grant the defendants’ motions (Doc. 200 in 8:21-cv-2429 and Doc. 275 in 8:22-cv-1275) to dissolve the preliminary injunctions, to de-certify the class of Marines, and to dismiss the complaints as moot.”

The DOD officially rescinded the August 24, 2021 and November 30, 2021 memoranda mandating that members of the Armed Forces and members of the National Guard and the Ready Reserves receive the COVID-19 shot. This action comes after thousands of service members have been denied religious accommodation requests (RAR) from the unlawful federal COVID shot mandate. Many service members have been punished, demoted and discharged as a result. 

Judge Merryday is retaining jurisdiction to consider a motion for attorney’s fees and costs. That motion will be filed when the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals sends the case back to Judge Merryday. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The COVID shot mandate is dead. The Marines can no longer be forced to take this jab that conflicts with their religious convictions. Our classwide injunction stopped the Department of Defense from violating the rights of the Marines and now the mandate has been rescinded. We stand ready to defend our defenders of freedom if any religious discrimination occurs in the future. In the meantime, we will soon return to court to press our claim for attorney's fees and costs.” 

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