9:19PM Apr 4, 2022
All right. Mike, thank you so much for joining us. Can you please give us an update on the US Navy SEAL case? What's the latest development.
The latest development in the in the case of the Navy SEALs, represented by First Liberty Institute, is that the district court judge recently granted our motion for class certification and issued a class wide injunction. What that means is that originally the case, we brought the case on behalf of 35, Navy Seals and other special warfare personnel. And when the court issued an injunction back in January, it only extended to those 35 people that were named in the case. But now with with the class wide certification, what that does is converts into a class action lawsuit. So this will protect potentially everybody in the Navy, who has requested a religious accommodation from the military vaccine mandate.
Actually, I wanted to ask you about that. What do you make of the fact that so since March 23, which is a little over a week now, there have been over 4000, US Navy, members of the US Navy, both active as well as reserved units who have requested for a religious accommodation. And yet zero, religious accommodation requests have actually been granted. What do you make of that?
I think that speaks to the importance of this case, and exactly why the district court issued that class wide certification. I think the Court recognized that this case goes far beyond just 35, navy seals that there are 1000s of people and just in the Navy, we're not even talking about the other branches, just in the US Navy alone, as you said there are over 4000 people who could stand to lose their freedom, they could stand to lose their jobs, they could be kicked out of the military, all because of their religious beliefs. I think the Court recognized that the court issued this class wide certification and then issued a class wide injunction which essentially stops the Navy from taking adverse actions and kicking these people out just because of their religious beliefs.
What do you make of the fact that? I mean, outside of this case, it seems like besides the even the US Navy, all branches of the US military are extremely reluctant to grant any religious accommodation requests. I believe that the the latest I've read, I think only less than a dozen across the board and the US military have been granted these requests. What do you what do you make of that?
Well, I mean, many years ago, when I was in law school, we learned about this, and we called it discrimination. That's religious discrimination, when the government has publicly stated that they're willing to approve medical exemptions, they're willing to approve administrative exemptions in the hundreds, but they're not willing to approve a single religious exemption. That is blatant religious discrimination. It's religious hostility. And it actually is to a great detriment to our military, it reduces our morale. Morale is in the tank. Right now, recruiting numbers are some of the lowest we've seen in years. And I think this is part of the reason why people who are serving in the military want to know that the government that the United States military has their back, if they're going to put their lives on the line to defend this country and defend our freedom, the very least we can do is ensure that they don't lose the very freedoms that they're protecting. But that's not happening right now. And so I think the court recognizes that and the court is doing what it can to help to ensure that the rule of law in the Constitution still means something in this country.
What do you make of the fact that up until now, within the US Navy, there have been 630 members that have been kicked out for refusing the COVID 9019 vaccine? What would be the ideal scenario? So let's say you win your case, in, let's say, several months from now, you look back, you win your case, what's the ideal scenario for both the members of the Navy who are still in but maybe out of the 630, who have been kicked out, perhaps because their request was denied? What's the best case scenario?
Oh, best case scenario, clearly is to ensure that the people who are still in the military who have a religious objection, they're protected, that this that this vaccine mandate is lifted, that or if the vaccine mandate isn't lifted, at the very least give them the religious combinations that they've asked for. And then for the hundreds who've already been kicked out, there should be some way to reinstate them to return and restore their freedom, their constitutional rights, their liberty, but then back in uniform, if they choose to. I mean, here's part of the danger is that I've spoken to some who said, You know what, even if they allowed me to go back in, I don't want to go in anymore. I've lost I've lost my faith and confidence in our country, in our military, in our in our military leadership, I don't trust them to do the right thing anymore. That's why this is so devastating to our national security, to America's trust and confidence in the military. We have to have that in a free country, if we're going to continue to be to be the nation that we've always known as the United States.
You know, one of the arguments that I've read for this forced vaccination They often cite this example of how during the Revolutionary War, George Washington forcibly inoculated all of his troops against smallpox. And, you know, a lot of people credit that as to why they won the Revolutionary War. In the end, what would you say to people who make that argument?
I thought we won the Revolutionary War, because the British surrendered to us, they realized that they were never going to defeat us. And they were not going to defeat the the colonists because I look at the Constitutional Convention, knowing exactly the history that you just explained, right, that, and when they drafted the Constitution, and when they wrote the first amendment, they didn't say, oh, but this doesn't apply during a time of pandemic or a time of disease or a time of famine or a time of war. They didn't put any of those exceptions in the First Amendment, they certainly could have because they were no strangers to disease, famine, war, right invasions, but yet, they decided to write the First Amendment without any of those exceptions. So that tells me they understood exactly what they were doing when they wrote the Constitution. And when they wrote the first amendment, and they believe that the free exercise of religion is a foundational right to all freedom, and they wanted to protect that and enshrine that for future generations to come.
So I want to shift gears a little bit. So outside of this on this victory, you have it appears you had somewhat of a setback as well, with the US Supreme Court. Can you sort of set the grounds for that? What happened there?
Sure. Well, the United States government filed a motion for an emergency stay application at the Supreme Court. So they are essentially, they asked for a very limited partial and narrow relief, they only ask for the Navy to have the ability to consider somebody's vaccination status when making personnel assignment decisions, such as whether or not to deploy somebody or whether or not to assign somebody to a particular ship or a particular vessel. And the Supreme Court gave them that limited, narrow ability to do that. But everything else in this case is is still the Navy is still prohibited from punishing or taking adverse action. So the only thing the Navy is allowed to do right now is to use vaccination status as one of the factors that they are able to consider when making personal assignment decisions. And all other respects. The district court's preliminary injunction is still in place.
Hmm. Let me get your opinion on this, even though, when the US Supreme Court made that that ruling, that issue really didn't give a reason. But just as Brett Kavanaugh, he did issue, a concurring opinion and this is what he said, I want to read it and then get your opinion. He wrote, quote, in this case, the district court while no doubt well intentioned, in effect, inserted itself into the Navy's chain of command overriding military commanders, professional military judgments. So if that type of thinking actually presses forward, do you see a situation where even if you win the case, and let's say, the Navy isn't allowed to fire people who religiously object to the vaccine, maybe they'll relegate them to desk jobs, maybe they'll control what they can and can't do. And they'll give unfavorable jobs to those who choose to not get the vaccine is that a foreseeable thing that can happen in the future?
It might happen. But if it does, then I'm very confident that as this country is this case, and the other cases around the country that continue forward, as they progress, there will be more and more evidence that comes out and comes forth, that the Navy is actually doing that is actually using somebody not just it's not necessarily the vaccination status. It's the reason why the person is unvaccinated. And the Navy is using that as a weapon. And they're using that as a way to punish somebody. It's and they're saying, it's we don't care whether you're vaccinated or not. What we really care about is the reason why you're choosing not to be vaccinated. If you have, as I said earlier, if you have a medical reason, or an administrative reason why you can't get the vaccine, the Navy has no problem with that. If the person has a religious reason why they can't get the vaccine, then the Navy is using that as a way to punish them. I think as that as more and more evidence of that comes forward, then my hope and expectation is that the Supreme Court will take a closer look at that and realize that the Navy is not being entirely truthful about what it's doing with this evidence of vaccination status.
So you're saying in that scenario, if they if you win, and they allow them to stay, they would have to treat people who have medical exemption exemptions versus religious exemptions differently in order for that to qualify as discrimination. Is that the case or would just be discrimination regardless,
that's actually what's happening right now is exactly what you said that people with medical and administrative exemptions are being treated much more favorably than people who have or who are requesting religious exemptions because as we pointed out, nobody is receiving religious exemptions, but there are hundreds of medical and administrative exemptions. And those people with the medical and administrative exemptions, they're allowed to continue on with their careers. They're allowed to promote they're allowed to have whatever assignments that they that that fit their, their careers and their career path. But if you have a religious exemption or record for religious exemption, you are somehow considered non deployable or the Navy is refusing to allow them to have certain assignments. So they're using it, as I said, they're using it as a way of punishing them, which is unconstitutional. And it's illegal.
Oh, last question. What's the next step in this case for you?
Well, we're going to continue fighting this every step of the way. I mean, after the Supreme Court issued that, that partial stay that very narrow stay, went back to the district court, the judge issued the the class wide certification and the class wide injunction, I suspect that the Department of Justice is probably I don't know, but they're probably going to appeal that. And we'll end up back in the court of appeals again, so this case, still has a lot of life left in it. And First Liberty Institute is going to continue to fight every step of the way. So we encourage everybody to stay tuned at first liberty.org and keep up with this case and what's happening. And please get behind us. And as we stand side by side with with these Navy Seals and and other warriors.
That's great. Mike, actually, I remembered one other question. When I was traveling last month around with a trucker convoy that was fighting against the vaccine mandates. I spoke to quite a few parents who had children in the military, and it wasn't in the Navy. It was, I believe there was a couple of people I spoke to who were in the Marine Corps in the Air Force and the Army. Do you have any plans to pursue those other branches of the military in the same way?
Not not specifically at this time. And we certainly hope that the victories that we've been achieving on behalf of Navy servicemembers that that will spill over into the other branches, and that at the at the end of the day, it whether it's President Biden as Commander in Chief, or the Secretary of Defense, that, you know, common sense prevails, and they finally decide it's time to lift this vaccine mandate once and for all, provide relief for everybody serving in our military. When you serve in the military, you give up some of your freedoms, some of your autonomy, you don't give up your religious freedom. But that's exactly what the Biden administration is doing to our military right now. They are depleting morale, they're reducing readiness. They're putting our country at risk. They're putting lives at risk. So our hope is that what's happening in the Navy, all the victories that first Larry's been achieving will begin to see those have a ripple effect across the other branches as well.
Mike, thank you so much, and best of luck in the case.
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. Great. Thank you so much for coming on board. Yeah, best of luck and keep us updated.