On December 20th, 2021, Senator Ted Cruz led seven other senators along with House Republican Conference chair Mike Johnson of Louisiana leading 38 House Republicans in signing an Amicus Brief with the lawsuit filed by the Navy SEALS against the Biden Administrations over the Vaccine Mandate that is being forced on military personnel.
About 26 Navy SEALS and several other Naval servicemen have made claims that their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion have been trampled on as their exemptions were denied. They believe that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the First Amendment, they have a right to decline being vaccinated, especially as they have all signaled that they are willing to undergo the testing requirements in lieu of the jabs.
Maybe you are curious as to what an Amicus Brief is or what its function is. What good do they do?
Well, according to Cornell Law, an Amicus Brief is Latin for “friend of the court.” Plural is “amici curiae.” Frequently, a person or group who is not a party to an action, but has a strong interest in the matter, will petition the court for permission to submit a brief in the action with the intent of influencing the court’s decision. Such briefs are called “amicus briefs.”
Rule 37 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States dictates the content, format, and circumstances of amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure governs amici curiae in federal courts in general. State rules of civil and appellate procedure govern amici curiae in state cases. In addition to advocating for an outcome through briefs, amici curiae sometimes participate in oral arguments before an appellate court.
Republicans have been trying to warn the Biden Administration that it is a “grave error” to enforce these vaccines on men and women willing to die for their country. Jen Psaki has made it clear that Biden will veto any attempt by the House or Senate to write a bill banning any type of vaccine mandate.
To this, the Republicans have decided to jump in on some of the lawsuits taking place outside of the ones their own states may have filed. Below, Senator Cruz tweeted his intent to petition the courts in support of the Navy SEALs.
My colleagues and I filed an amicus brief in U.S. Navy Seals v. Biden in support of 26 service members with religious objections to Biden's vaccine mandate.
Religious freedom is fundamental to every American’s liberty.https://t.co/wlcpHoVLW9
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) December 20, 2021
In the brief, the members wrote:
“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. 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. This violates RFRA by substantially burdening Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs without a compelling reason, and violates the First Amendment’s guarantee that government not discriminate against religion.”
“Defendants’ policies mandating that Plaintiffs be vaccinated in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs does not come close to satisfying the strictest scrutiny Congress demands in RFRA. 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.”
“Religious freedom is fundamental to every American’s liberty, but we have seen in recent years increasing hostility among elected and appointed government officials towards those who seek to exercise that freedom. . . . That same hostility to religion is on display with Defendants’ mandate. Defendants could easily accommodate Plaintiffs and similarly situated religious individuals given that Defendants are already accommodating individuals with medical issues or who received placebos in clinical trials. They have simply chosen not to do so.”
“[T]he 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. Our men and women in uniform have fought to protect the freedoms that every American, regardless of belief, enjoys. Now they ask this Court to protect their religious freedom from encroachment by the very government they have sworn to protect with their lives.”
Read the full text of the amicus brief here.