“They do so much to protect us,” First Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys tells American Family News. “It was about time for someone to protect them."
First Liberty is now headed to court to ask the court for a permanent injunction on behalf of 35 plaintiffs from the Naval Special Warfare Command.
ADF: Our clients don't want to be 'vaccine police'
Chris Woodward (AFN)
The landmark case over President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is coming before the U.S. Supreme Court this Friday, and a legal firm that filed suit to stop him says its clients want freedom to prevail.
"Our clients are watching this very closely, and our clients care about one thing: their mission," Frank Chang, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, tells American Family News.
AFN has reported the high court will hear oral arguments Friday in a surprise special session that was announced by the justices before Christmas. The justices will hear two vaccine mandate appeals by the Biden administration: one related to forced vaccination of medical workers and the second related to an OSHA rule forcing businesses to vaccinate their employees or get fined and punished if they fail to do so.
ADF filed suit in federal court in November on behalf of two Kentucky-based seminaries, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary.
“It is unacceptable,” said Dr. Albert Mohler, president of SBTS, “for the government to force religious institutions to become coercive extensions of state power.”
“For religious institutions, their calling was to spread the gospel and preach the gospel,” Change tells AFN. “They did not go into their ministry to become the vaccine police on behalf of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
ADF is also representing The Daily Wire, the conservative group led by Ben Shapiro.
In a strongly-worded order, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor called the Navy's process for considering a sailor's religious exemption request “theater,” The Associated Press reported.
It was unclear in the AP story what the judge was referring to but the Pentagon has yet to grant even one religious exemption in any military branch. Military commanders have also been accused of creating a red-tape bureaucracy for the holdouts that remain persistent amid an environment of intimidation and threats.
Dys says the sailors he represents have been not only been threatened with being kicked out of the Navy’s special-operations units but the SEALs have been told they will have to repay the taxpayers’ dollars spent to train them.
The First Liberty attorney points out, gratefully, that Judge O’Connor accused the United States government of failing to protect the First Amendment rights of sailors who are dedicated to protecting those same freedoms while in uniform.
“The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms,” the judge wrote in his order. “There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”
“And so what this court has actually done,” Dys says, “has been to defend the religious liberty of the men and women who preserve our religious liberty day in and day out."
Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain, tells AFN the federal judge "stopped the Navy in their tracks" with the tough-talking order. Judge O'Connor, he says, deserve praise for condemning the Biden administration and defending the U.S. Constitution.
"He's saying the servicemen and women have constitutional rights," Klingenshmitt says, "that COVID is not an excuse to abuse their rights."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from Gordon Klingenschmitt.