Twenty-six members of the elite Navy SEALs filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming the government is arbitrarily refusing their requests for religious exemptions from the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, cites the U.S. Constitution, Navy and DOD regulations, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which should protect the service members’ religious liberty and guard them against “unlawful” and “arbitrary and capricious” actions.
According to First Liberty Institute, the group that filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of the service members on Tuesday, anyone who requested religious exemptions to the vaccine was told they may face “court-martial or involuntary separation.”
The latest lawsuit comes after a federal court temporarily halted Biden’s mandate that private sector companies with more than 99 employees ensure that their workers are vaccinated or receive weekly testing. More than 20 states have joined a series of lawsuits challenging the private sector vaccine mandate. A separate vaccination mandate for federal employees is also facing pushback.
Many SEALs have reportedly left in anticipation that they would be forced out.
“We generally have about 2,500 Navy SEALs,” Robert O’Neill, a former Navy SEAL who claims to have killed Osama Bin Laden in Operation Neptune Spear, said after the mandate was announced. “It takes time to get to certain levels. Hundreds are leaving because of nonsense.”