In response to a new amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that gave Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin 30 days to rescind the mandate, he recently announced that it had been dropped.
But given that his memorandum also gives commanders some discretion regarding the possible deployment of unvaccinated troops, it is clear to Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver that Austin still supports the COVID shots.
"I have no confidence that there is any sincerity whatsoever in repealing this mandate," Staver submits. "Obviously, it was forced upon the secretary of defense and Joe Biden by the National Defense Authorization Act, and I have no confidence that these individuals are going to get fair treatment following the rescission of this mandate. So, we're going to continue to press forward with our cases."
Danielle Runyan, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, likewise notices that the memo allows commanders to still consider service members' vaccination statuses when making operational deployment and assignment decisions. She says those are "the same decisions that have been made over the course of the mandates."
"These are the same decisions that have ultimately led to careers being in jeopardy, people being removed from their jobs, people not being able to deploy, people not being able to travel or go to training," Runyan lists. "These are all the things that are eventually going to lead to the end of service members' careers."
The Department of Defense and secretary of the Air Force are facing a federal lawsuit from First Liberty to stop them from illegally punishing service members. On February 6th at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the firm is also representing 35 Navy SEALs whose careers and livelihoods are being threatened with punishment, involuntary separation, or even court-martial for seeking a legal, religious accommodation to the COVID shot mandate.
Liberty Counsel is scheduled for a trial on February 27 in federal court before Judge Steven Merryday in the pursuit of permanent class action relief from the unlawful federal COVID shot mandate on behalf of those who currently serve in the United States Marine Corps.