Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by U.S. Navy personnel challenging the Navy's failure to grant religious exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The brief was presented to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning an ongoing battle between a small group of sailors and the federal government's vaccination guidelines.
In January, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor prevented the Department of Defense (DOD) from removing 0.6% of all Navy service members, including a group of 35 Navy SEALs, who requested a religious accommodation to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
O'Connor ruled that the DOD had violated the sailors' constitutional right to refuse the vaccine based on their religious beliefs.
After the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals did not block O'Connor's ruling, the Biden administration filed an emergency application in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).
In March, SCOTUS restored the Navy's right to consider vaccination status when determining the careers of its servicemembers.
The sailors argued they should be exempted from vaccination demands based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. They also claimed in their brief that the vaccine was "an affront to the Creator" due to the vaccine being developed with aborted fetal cells.
"Perhaps more than any other of President Biden's vaccine mandates, his heavy-handed approach has been most profoundly felt by the U.S. Military," Marshall said. "Just over a year ago, military personnel were ordered to begin taking COVID-19 vaccinations, and many who asserted religious objections to the vaccine were summarily denied. Records indicate that while more than 4,000 Naval active duty and reserve sailors submitted requests for religious accommodations, all but a few dozen had their requests denied."
Marshall is joined in his brief by Attorneys General from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
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