Over 20 states have joined an amicus brief supporting members of the US Navy who refused Covid jabs due to religious objections.
In an amicus curiae brief filed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming expressed support for the seafaring servicemembers to cite religious freedom as grounds to reject the military’s forcible inoculations.
“The amici States have a powerful interest in holding true the balance between pursuing important state interests and protecting sincerely held religious beliefs,” the filing states. “Respect for policymakers’ judgments should not be permitted to mask abuse of religious freedom.”
The case stems from a lawsuit filed Nov. 9, 2021, by 26 Navy SEALs, five Navy Special Warfare crewmen and three divers claiming the Biden administration violated their civil rights when it refused to honor their religious objections to its unconstitutional vaccine edict.
The Biden administration in turn attempted to defer the matter to the judgement of military professionals, which the amici States say should be discounted in light of the various recent legal challenges to Covid rules and mandates.
“In the past year, courts have recognized the overreaching and flawed claims of legal authority underlying the Administration’s response to the pandemic, the tension between its policies and the facts, and its inconsistent statements and actions that undercut its claims of good faith,” the states wrote. “These recurring features of the Administration’s response undermine its claim to deference here.”
The brief argues the administration’s claims of deference are further undermined by policymakers’ actions, and the administration’s own previous actions on federal vaccine mandates which “call into question the claimed need for any nationwide mandate.”
“None of the Federal Employee Mandate, Federal Contractor Mandate, CMS Mandate, Head Start Mandate, or Military Mandate provides an option for employees to produce periodic negative tests or mask as an alternative. Yet the Private Employer Mandate—which potentially affected 84 million Americans— said that a test-and-mask alternative provided ‘roughly equivalent protection’ to vaccination.
“These statements and actions, when taken together with the repeated judicial recognition that the Administration exceeded its legal authority, erode claims that the Administration’s pandemic response has been motivated by sound, detached judgments based on public-health considerations.”
The 38-page brief concludes the Biden administration cannot overstep the “limitations on its authority” and “then [ask] for deference to its judgements.”
“[It] is ‘not enough’ to ‘defer to [an official’s] determination’ about when an individual’s religious liberties must give way, particularly where history provides good reason to question that determination,” the filing states.
“This Court should not afford deference to the federal government in reviewing the decisions below.”
Discussing the filing, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch slammed Biden for badgering military servicemembers and for politicizing the issue.
“These brave men and women risk their lives to defend our freedom and they should not be required to check their own freedom at the door because they serve in our military – especially where the Administration has demonstrated that its demand here is due to blind adherence to a political agenda,” Fitch stated.
In their initial lawsuit filed by the First Liberty Institute, the Navy servicemembers took issue with the fact that the vaccines were developed and tested using aborted fetal cell lines, which goes against their sincerely held religious beliefs, and the fact the vaccines induce a foreign “spike protein” in the body, which they believe desecrates God’s creation.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated Navy servicemembers are “stuck in gruesome limbo,” with some servicemembers claiming in court docs that they’re being “forced into less-than-desirable alternative housing by the military or barred from traveling outside their base,” reports Fox News.
One sailor detailed in a court declaration the “deplorable” conditions he’s been subjected after being moved to the USS Dwight D Eisenhower aircraft carrier’s berthing barge.
“Because I could not leave the area, I moved onto the berthing barge for the Eisenhower. The conditions on the barge are deplorable, much like the USS George Washington, which is anchored in the same shipyard. There is mold everywhere and the barge’s toilets back up and leak. The water leaks out of the base of the toilet and collects near my rack and out into the hall. On bad days, it goes into the berthings on the other side. The leaks seem to be sewage—it smells like sewage and looks like it too. See Exhibit C (water I’ve mopped up from under my rack).”
“There is some sort of worm thriving in the stagnant water in the toilet bowls and on the floor in the leaked water around the base of the toilets. Needless to say, I do not feel comfortable or safe in this environment and I have contacted mental health services multiple times,” continued the sailor.
“I do want—desperately—to be separated from the Navy as soon as possible, but I struggle with withdrawing my request as I feel it could signal that my religious objection was somehow not genuine, and it is. It feels wrong to have to renounce my beliefs in order to get the Navy to separate me,” they continued.
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