A group of nearly 50 GOP lawmakers have filed a brief in support of Navy SEALS who have sued the Department of Defense in search of a religious exemption for the Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., are leading the fight for these service members. In total, nine senators have signed on the amicus brief along with 38 representatives.
The suit names Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro as defendants. The case is set to be heard in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas next Monday.
Sen. Cruz’s statement reads, “The service members argue that both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the First Amendment require the federal government to allow exemptions for their sincerely held religious beliefs, especially since they are willing to take other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in lieu of vaccination and the Navy is already allowing medical exemptions.”
The amicus brief lists the constitutional complications with not allowing the plaintiffs to argue bodily autonomy in the scope of religious convictions.
The senator’s brief continues, “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. . . . That same hostility to religion is on display with Defendants’ mandate. Defendants could easily accommodate Plaintiffs and similarly situated religious individuals given that Defendants are already accommodating individuals with medical issues or who received placebos in clinical trials. They have simply chosen not to do so.”
Of the 12,000 service members that have requested a religious exemption, none have been approved. According to Politico, over 100 Marines have now been discharged for not getting the vaccine.