Federal Court on Military Religious Exemptions from COVID Vaccination

Simply Steven Merryday (M.D. Fla.) denies sure associated claims right now (Navy Seal 1 v. Biden), however deferred judgment on these ones:

Whether or not characterised as a facial problem or as a category of exactly related as-applied challenges, requiring solely a single judicial willpower, the plaintiffs’ competition is — based mostly on present information — fairly believable that every department’s process for requesting a spiritual exemption is a ruse that may outcome inevitably within the undifferentiated (and subsequently illegal underneath RFRA) denial of every service member’s request. Significantly, the information produced by the defendants present that greater than 16,643 requests for a spiritual exemption pend. The army has granted no exemptions however has denied a whole lot.

This disparity, though prone to a benign clarification is, as nicely, prone to an evidence actionable and remediable underneath RFRA. The significance of an individual’s proper to non secular liberty, protected within the Free Train Clause of the First Modification to the Structure and the express implementing instructions of RFRA, commends deferring the decision of the service members’ movement for preliminary injunction pending the buildup and reporting of extra information and the resumption — with the advantage of extra full and telling information — of the listening to on the movement for preliminary injunction.

Counsel for the defendants acknowledged on the listening to that every service department retains a centralized and readily accessible file of the standing of every exemption request in every department of the army. The defendants should file each FOUR TEEN DAYS, starting on January 7, 2022, a discover offering SEPARATELY FOR EACH BRANCH OF THE ARMED FORCES:

(1) the mixture variety of religious-exemption requests from COVID-19 vaccination, the mixture variety of preliminary denials, the variety of these denials during which the chaplain decided that the asserted perception is honest, the mixture variety of appeals pending, the mixture variety of denials for which the time to attraction has expired with out attraction, the variety of appeals denied, the variety of profitable appeals (that’s, the variety of appeals that resolve or remand for decision the applying for an exemption), and the full variety of non secular exemptions lastly granted and eventually denied;

(2) the variety of medical-exemption requests from COVID-19 vaccination and the variety of medical exemptions granted and denied;

(3) the variety of different exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination granted for some other cause; and

(4) the variety of courts-martial and the variety of separation proceedings pending or concluded in opposition to a service member whose request for a spiritual exemption was denied after attraction.