Rep. Jackson in Support of Servicemembers Seeking Religious Exemption from the Military’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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WASHINGTON — Monday, Representative Ronny Jackson (TX-13) joined an amicus brief to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in support of 35 Navy servicemembers who are seeking religious accommodations from the Department of Defense’s vaccine mandate. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) led the brief, which was signed by 38 Representatives and 9 Senators.

The plaintiffs have sued the Department of Defense over the Department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in a Texas federal court claiming that the mandate infringes upon their religious freedom rights.

Jackson said: “What Joe Biden is doing is abundantly obvious – ignoring our Constitution. I’m proud to join Sen. Cruz and Rep. Johnson in filing this brief along with many of my colleagues who will always uphold the Constitution and stand by our servicemembers. The First Amendment right to religious liberty should withstand the test of an illegal vaccine mandate. As Russia, China, and Iran work overtime to destroy us, we cannot afford to have our military’s best and brightest on the sidelines because their own Commander-in-Chief has waged war on their rights.”

The brief states: “The very first clause of the very First Amendment explicitly states that ‘Congress shall make no law… prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion. This amendment, case law, and Congress’s decision to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act all testify to the fact that, without entrenched, generally applicable, and judicially enforceable protections for religious liberty, lawmakers and government bureaucrats are susceptible to override sincere religious beliefs in favor of what they mistakenly see as the greater good. That is what is happening with Defendants’ vaccine mandate.”

The brief continues: “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 brief concludes: “Indeed, the impact on the military and our national security strongly counsels in favor of granting a preliminary injunction. The mandate is sidelining the deployment of soldiers on whose service our country relies. If this mandate (as currently being applied or threatened) is not enjoined, these Plaintiffs cannot fulfill their pledge to serve and defend our country, even though, based upon their training and experience, these Plaintiffs, as well as others similarly situated, are some of our most qualified, equipped, and fearless soldiers… Now they ask this Court to protect their religious freedom from encroachment by the very government they have sworn to protect with their lives.

“If the mandate stands, it is likely, then, that it will be more difficult for our military to recruit highly qualified individuals of faith to serve our country—a consequence that is wholly unnecessary, damaging to our military’s morale, and damaging to our national security.”

Jackson is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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