Marine Hearing on Extended Relief From Discharge Over Shot Mandate

Aug 9, 2022

U.S District Court Judge Steven Merryday will hold a hearing tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET on whether to convert the temporary restraining order for a U.S. Marine First Lieutenant into a preliminary injunction. 

On August 5, within two hours of Liberty Counsel’s request, Judge Steven Merryday granted a temporary restraining order for a U.S. Marine First Lieutenant to stop the Department of Defense from ordering administrative separation and eviction from his home for merely requesting an accommodation of his sincere religious beliefs. 

The military has forced the First Lieutenant, who is a Supply Officer with the U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Force, to choose between his religious beliefs and accept the COVID shot or face discipline and administrative separation. In addition, the military threatened him with only two days’ notice for discharge from the Marine Corps and ordered him to remove himself, his wife, and his two minor children from Camp Pendleton by August 5, 2022.  

In fact, seven months after the denial of his appeal, the Marine Corps suddenly issued First Lieutenant his discharge orders on August 3 and only gave him two days to move himself and his family from their home at Camp Pendleton and to return to a “home of record or to any other place you may elect.” In addition to the military’s recommendation to administratively separate this First Lieutenant from the Marine Corps for merely requesting a religious accommodation to the shot mandate, the Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs stated to him that his failure to accept an injection that directly conflicts with his sincerely held religious beliefs “demonstrates he has no potential for future service and outweighs any positive aspects of his career.” 

However, in his order Judge Merryday wrote, “The plaintiffs append First Lieutenant’s religious accommodation packet, a review of which strongly suggests that the denial of First Lieutenant’s request for a religious accommodation and the denial of his appeal are subject to the same infirmities that plagued the denial of Lieutenant Colonel 2’s appeal and USMC Captain’s appeal. Also, the denial bears an unsettling resemblance to the other appellate denials submitted.” 

Liberty Counsel continues to pursue class action relief from the unlawful federal COVID shot mandate on behalf of those who currently serve in the United States Marine Corps as well as for all the military branches. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The abuse and disrespect our service members face under this administration that refuses to comply with the law is shocking. The Department of Defense is attempting to purge from the military skilled and honorable defenders of freedom under the guise of the COVID shot mandate. The Department of Defense and the U.S. Marine Corps openly violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, denying to the same service members their constitutional and federally protected rights that they pledge to defend. These unlawful actions must stop.” 

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