47 GOPers Side With Navy SEALS in Federal Lawsuit Seeking Religious Exemption to Vaccine Mandate
00:19 GMT 21.12.2021 (Updated: 01:01 GMT 27.02.2022)
Most of the unvaccinated among the US military have asked to be exempted from mandatory vaccination, but no exemptions have been granted so far.
A group of 47 Republicans, led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have penned an amicus brief backing a federal lawsuit brought by 26 Navy SEALS and 9 special operations crewmembers requesting a religious exemption to the Biden administration's vaccine mandate.
"Religious freedom is fundamental to every American’s liberty, but we have seen in recent years increasing hostility among elected and appointed government officials towards those who seek to exercise that freedom," the lawmakers write in the brief.
"This mandate, however, sends a strong signal to these young men and women that they must choose between their faith and their desire to protect America because the military will not reasonably accommodate their sincerely held religious beliefs. If the mandate stands, it is likely, then, that it will be more difficult for our military to recruit highly qualified individuals of faith to serve our country—a consequence that is wholly unnecessary, damaging to our military’s morale, and damaging to our national security."
The suit was filed in November and argues that the vaccine mandate violates the rights provided in the First Amendment (regarding non-discrimination against religion), as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
According to Politico, the Marine Corps has booted at least 103 troops for challenging the vaccine mandate, as they missed the deadline for vaccination. Meanwhile, none of the approximately 12,000 service members seeking religious exemptions have been granted one.
3 December 2021, 22:09 GMT
A majority of the US military has received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, including about 98% of the Army and Navy, 97.5% of the Air Force and 95% of the Marine Corps.