Almost 50 Republicans back Navy SEAL lawsuit over vaccine mandate



A group of 47 Republican lawmakers filed an amicus brief in support of a federal lawsuit brought by more than two-dozen Navy SEALS seeking a religious exemption to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate.

The suit, which names President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, will be heard in a federal courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of 26 Navy SEALs and nine special operations crewmembers.

The group of lawmakers, which includes nine senators and 38 representatives, is led by Sens. Ted Cruz, Jim Inhofe and Roger Marshall, whose amendment preventing the dishonorable discharge of service members refusing the vaccine was included in the National Defense Authorization Act that’s now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The lawsuit was filed in November by the First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based non-profit law firm that, according to its website, is “dedicated exclusively to protecting religious liberty for all Americans.”

The lawsuit states the mandate violates their First Amendment rights, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

So far, none of the roughly 12,000 service members who have requested religious exemptions from the federal vaccine mandate has received one. The Air Force is processing 4,700 requests, while the Navy is working through about 2,700. The Marine Corps and Army is reviewing 3,100 and 1,700 requests, respectively.

The Marine Corps has already separated 103 troops for refusing the vaccine, and the Air Force trimmed 27 this month, as the deadlines to get the shots have passed.

The vast majority of service members have received their vaccination shots, with all of the services reporting numbers well above the national average.

The Army and Navy are each at about 98 percent, while the Air Force stands at 97.5 percent and the Marine Corps at 95 percent.

Approximately 72 percent of the U.S. population has been vaccinated.

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