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The U.S. Solicitor General filed an emergency motion asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stay a preliminary injunction issued in January by federal district court judge Reed O’Connor. The preliminary injunction stopped the Department of Defense from punishing First Liberty Institute’s clients—35 Navy SEALs and other special warfare personnel—who have religious objections to the Department’s vaccine mandate. Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied a request by the government to stay the injunction.


“Both Judge O’Connor and the Fifth Circuit got it right; there is no Covid exception to our Constitution. But the Biden Administration appears to be more interested in promoting its harmful agenda than in defending the Constitution,” said Mike Berry, Vice President of External Affairs, Director of Military Affairs, and Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “As the Fifth Circuit did last week, the U.S. Supreme Court should reject this latest attempt to punish our clients and make clear, once and for all, that our service members do not forfeit their religious freedom because they are in the military.”

In his preliminary injunction order issued in January, Judge Reed O’Connor said, “The Navy service members in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect. The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

First Liberty Institute and Hacker Stevens LLP filed a federal lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction on behalf of dozens of U.S. Navy SEALs and other Naval Special Warfare personnel against the Biden Administration and the Department of Defense for their refusal to grant religious accommodations to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

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