(The Center Square) – Two new motions have been filed with a U.S. District Court asking it to grant class status and certify a class-wide preliminary injunction on behalf of Coast Guard members American whose requests for religious exemption from a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate were denied.
Orlando-based religious liberty organization Liberty Counsel filed two renewed motions in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Florida on Tuesday asking the court to certify the entire class and issue a preliminary injunction to the class scale.
Liberty Counsel represents Coast Guard members who argue that taking experimental COVID-19 vaccines violates their sincere religious beliefs because they were developed using aborted fetal cells. Its plaintiffs received no religious exemptions or accommodations, which they requested long before the vaccine compliance deadlines. The deadlines have since passed and the disciplinary actions have begun. Court relief, Liberty Counsel argues, “is now needed to prevent these military heroes from facing discharge, court martial, other life-altering disciplinary proceedings and termination.”
Liberty Counsel Founder and President Mat Staver said: “Even though these brave Coast Guard heroes have been threatened with dismissal and separation, many have recently been deployed to South Florida to rescue victims of the “Hurricane Ian. Not a single person who was helped by these heroes was concerned if they had received the COVID vaccine. Yet the Department of Defense continues to break the law and ignore their religious freedom. This must stop.
Liberty Counsel has made public the credentials of some of its complainants.
One, a pilot lieutenant commander, served honorably on active duty for more than 13 years, according to Liberty Counsel. With over 3,010 military flight hours and 234 simulator hours, the pilot has participated in operational tours in Louisiana, Puerto Rico and Alaska. He estimates the cost of his training at over $10 million and has received two commendation medals.
Another is an avionics electrical technician/NCO 1st Class who has served for nearly 19 years, according to Liberty Counsel. As a navigator on HC-130H aircraft, he currently manages the training program and flight schedules at his air station, the only US Coast Guard air station flying HC-130H aircraft. Although there is a shortage of navigators and he is the only navigator at his air station trained to carry out his training function, the Coast Guard is willing to discharge him for a vaccine warrant after denying his request for a religious exemption, notes Liberty Counsel.
According to Liberty Counsel, another is a chief boatswain/senior chief petty officer of the reserve who directs and mentors younger members. With over 23 years of uninterrupted service and no disciplinary action, his primary operational duties and responsibilities focus on the safe operation and navigation of multiple small craft.
The court application was filed after the Coast Guard issued a memorandum to all Coast Guard commands to initiate separation proceedings for anyone who refused to take the COVID-19 snaps who said they violated their sincere religious beliefs.
It was also filed after an office of the Department of Defense inspector general found that US military officials had violated federal law by denying requests for religious exemption on a large scale.