Court Gives DOD Extensive Homework Before Navy SEAL 1 v. Biden Hearing

Nov 1, 2021

TAMPA, FL— In Liberty Counsel’s class action lawsuit against Joseph R. Biden, the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the federal court in Florida ordered the defendants to submit an extensive verified list of information regarding COVID shots and the military by November 12. 

Liberty Counsel represents members from all five branches of the military, federal employees, and federal civilian contractors who have been unlawfully mandated to get the COVID shots or face dishonorable discharge from the military or termination from employment. 

In preparation for Navy SEAL 1 v. Biden, Judge Steve Merryday has ordered the defendants to file a “precise statement of the number of requests in each branch for a religious exemption from injection of a COVID-19 vaccine; the number of requests granted, denied, and pending; the number of persons in the armed forces who are unvaccinated and who have submitted no request for exemption; the number of persons whose application is resolved and who have received some change in the terms and conditions of their service, including separation of any kind; and the categories of results that have occurred and how many of each kind of result has occurred.”

In addition, the court ordered the Department of Defense to submit: “(1) the procedure by which a service member applies for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, including a copy of any form for, and any instructions for, applying for an exemption and a copy of any form used to grant, deny, or otherwise resolve the application; (2) the procedure for resolving the request, including the identity (by rank, position, or the like; a person’s name is not required) of the person or persons who initially resolve the request; (3) the criteria by which the identified person or persons will resolve the initial application, including the standard of proof the factual allegations of the application must satisfy before approval of the application; (4) the procedure, including the forms, the persons empowered to decide at each level, the standard of proof, and the like, for each opportunity available to a service member to obtain review of, and request reversal or modification of, an unsatisfactory (to the service member) resolution of the application (this statement must describe each level of available review to and including exhaustion of the available remedies); (5) the procedure for and alternatives for punishment following the denial of an application and the exhaustion of available review; and (6) any policy under active consideration (by any branch of the United States armed forces or any defendant) to alter or amend the substance and procedure described in response to (1) through (5) of this paragraph and effective before June 1, 2022.” 

The plaintiffs all hold sincere religious beliefs against the COVID shots on the basis that their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and to defile it is a sin against God. In addition, the plaintiffs do not want to participate directly or indirectly or otherwise be associated with the destruction of human life through abortion by injecting a product that contains or was tested or developed with aborted fetal cell lines. The plaintiffs have all submitted religious exemption requests from a COVID-19 injection which have been unlawfully denied. 

The COVID shots cannot be mandatory under the federal Emergency Use Authorization law, and the plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion is protected by the First Amendment. In addition, their free exercise of religion is protected under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). Regarding RFRA, the Supreme Court wrote, “That statute prohibits the federal government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless it demonstrates that doing so both furthers a compelling governmental interest and represents the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Because RFRA operates as a kind of super statute, displacing the normal operation of other federal laws, it might supersede Title VII’s commands in appropriate cases” (emphasis added). 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Liberty Counsel looks forward to our day in court against Joe Biden’s unlawful COVID shot mandates. The Biden administration has no authority to require the COVID shots for the military or for federal employees or civilian contractors. Nor can the Biden administration pretend that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment do not apply to its unlawful mandates. Forcing the COVID shots without consent or consideration for their sincere religious beliefs is illegal.” 

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