Florida judge orders injunction pausing vaccine mandate for Marines’ religious exemptions

The federal government’s requirement that active and reserve Marines receive the COVID vaccine has been blocked by a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in Florida, as The Conservative Brief reported. 

According to CBN, Christian religious rights law firm Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin seeking class action relief for the Marines who were denied religious exemptions.

“The defendants are PRELIMINARILY ENJOINED (1) from enforcing against a member of the class any order, requirement, or rule to accept COVID-19 vaccination, (2) from separating or discharging from the Marine Corps a member of the class who declines COVID-19 vaccination, and (3) from retaliating against a member of the class for the member’s asserting statutory rights under RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act),” U.S. District Court of Florida Judge Steven Merryday said in his decision against the Department of Defense and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Liberty Counsel said that the group includes a number of people including “All persons on active duty or in the ready reserve (1) who serve under the command of the Marine Corps,

Also included is anyone “who were affirmed by a chaplain as harboring a sincere religious objection” as well as those “who timely submitted an initial request for a religious accommodation,

Additionally, those “who were denied the initial request,” those “who timely appealed the denial of the initial request,” and anyone “who were denied or will be denied after appeal.”

Mat Staver, the Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman, celebrated the decision by the judge: “Our courageous U.S. Marines finally have relief from these unlawful COVID shot mandates. The Biden administration and the Department of Defense are not above the law.

“These brave service members have been abused and mistreated because of their faith. They have faced discharge, court-martial, other life-altering disciplinary procedures, and termination for simply embracing their religious freedom to choose not to inject a substance into their bodies,” Staver said.

“The Department of Defense has relentlessly violated the law and ignored their religious freedom,” he said.

“Today, that lawlessness ends. Liberty Counsel has the great privilege to defend these service members who love God and their country. Is it more likely than not — in nearly all 3,733 cases —that no reasonable accommodation was available?” Merryday said.

“Because the record reveals the substantial likelihood of a systemic failure by the Marine Corps to discharge the obligations established by RFRA, a class-wide preliminary injunction is warranted to preserve the status quo, to permit the full development of the record without prejudice to the plaintiffs, and to permit both a trial and a detailed, fact-based resolution of the controlling issues of fact and law,” the judge said.

The federal judge went on to say, “When Congress acts to preserve liberty, especially a liberty historically and constitutionally fundamental to the United States, the courts — the intended preserve of liberty — must not evade or equivocate, must not, so to speak, sacrifice the fundamental right of thousands of privates to Free Exercise in order to gratify the preference of a few generals.”

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