The Defense Department is facing a massive class-action lawsuit by military members from all service branches as well as federal workers and civilian contractors over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
According to Liberty Counsel, a Christian-themed legal group that filed the suit, the 24 plaintiffs “face a deadline under the Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate to receive a COVID-19 vaccine that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs, and have been refused any religious exemption or accommodation.”
The suit lists as defendants President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Plaintiffs are asking the federal court to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent the mandate from taking effect and ultimately barring it from being enforced at all.
Biden issued an executive order Sept. 9 mandating that nearly all federal employees and contractors to get a COVID-19 vaccine or risk being terminated or, in the case of the military, discharged for disobeying a lawful order.
Federal civilian employees and contractors have a deadline of Nov. 22 to become fully vaccinated.
Biden’s former order follows a directive issued Aug. 24 by Austin in which he instructed service members to become vaccinated. His memorandum was followed by similar directives from all military service branches containing deadlines for their members to get the jab, in spite of whether they had contracted the virus and recovered from it, producing natural antibodies. The service branch directives came with threats of suspension from duty, less-than-honorable discharges and military actions for non-compliance.
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated their commitments to the United States Constitution and the Nation’s future comfort, security, and prosperity,” says the legal filing. “This Court should demand that the Nation return the favor.
“Telling Plaintiffs they must accept or receive a shot they oppose according to their sincerely held religious beliefs, or face court martial, dishonorable discharge, and other life altering disciplinary measures, disgraces the sacrifices these heroes have made,” the filing says, adding that relief is “needed now” in order to “prevent the immediate and irreparable injury” imposed by the vaccine mandates.”
“The Biden administration has no authority to require the COVID shots for the military or for federal employees or civilian contractors. Nor can the Biden administration pretend that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment do not apply to its unlawful mandates,” Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement.
“The Commander-in-Chief must end this shameful treatment and abuse of our brave military heroes. Forcing the COVID shots without consent or consideration for their sincere religious beliefs is illegal,” he added.
Lawyers who filed the suit wrote that several of the 24 plaintiffs have been denied a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate and “have been threatened with a dishonorable discharge, court martial, termination, or other life-altering disciplinary measures” for attempting to secure exemptions.
“Some of these Plaintiffs have been informed by their superiors that no religious exemption or accommodation will be given, so there is no point in even making a request,” the filing noted further.
“Plaintiffs’ sincerely held religious beliefs preclude them from accepting any one of the three currently available COVID-19 vaccines derived from, produced or manufactured by, tested on, developed with, or otherwise connected to aborted fetal cell lines,” the suit argues, noting that aborted fetal cell lines were used in the development of some of the three approved COVID vaccines.
“Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs compel them to not condone, support, justify, or benefit (directly or indirectly) from the taking of innocent human life via abortion, and that to do so is sinning against God,” the filing added.
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