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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and several of his fellow Republican legislators signed an amicus brief backing the Navy SEALs suing President Biden and the administration over his military COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Cruz led seven of his Senate colleagues on the brief, which was also joined by 38 House Republicans led by House Republican Conference chair Mike Johnson of Louisiana.
The lawmakers wrote in support of the 26 Navy SEALs and other Naval service members, arguing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the First Amendment protected their religious freedom rights to object to the Navy vaccine mandate.
Sen. Ted Cruz addresses a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 6, 2021. (Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein)
“Plaintiffs’ religious liberty and the government’s asserted interest in protecting our service members from COVID-19 need not be in conflict, especially where, as here, the individuals seeking an exemption are willing to adopt non-vaccination measures to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19,” the lawmakers wrote in the brief.
“They are only in conflict here because Defendants refuse to accommodate Plaintiffs’ religious objections even as they accommodate those who will not receive the vaccine for non-religious reasons,” they continued.
The lawmakers argued that the absence of accommodation to the service members “violates RFRA by substantially burdening Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs without a compelling reason, and violates the First Amendment’s guarantee that government [does] not discriminate against religion.”
Additionally, the Republicans argued that the Biden administration pushing the vaccine mandate “in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs does not come close to satisfying the strictest scrutiny Congress demands in RFRA.”
President Biden speaks about the COVID-19 variant omicron at the White House on Nov. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
“Defendants’ vaccine mandate forces Plaintiffs – individuals who have devoted their lives to the protection of the country – to choose between following their sincerely held religious convictions and effectively being discharged, losing their calling, and destroying their financial well-being,” they wrote.
Republicans, led by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, previously warned the Biden administration that they were making a “grave mistake” by enforcing the military-wide vaccine mandate.
“As the father of a major in the Judge Advocate General Corps who honorably served our nation in a foreign combat theater, you can fully and uniquely appreciate the sacrifices that our veterans make for America,” Issa wrote in a letter to Biden obtained by Fox News.