Galey v. Biden
Soldiers Shouldn’t Have to Choose Between Their Faith and Their Military Service
Driven by his Christian faith, Master Sergeant Robert W. Galey, Jr., chose a life of service in the U.S. Army. That’s why he’s given over sixteen years of his life as an active-duty infantry soldier and deployed eight times to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When the Army first told service members that they must receive the vaccine, Master Sergeant Galey began to research the production process. He discovered that the vaccine they would have to take was tested and produced in a way that violated his profession of faith. His first request for exemption was denied, as was his appeal. He received a final notice that he will be separated from the Army.
Due to his refusal to take the vaccine on religious grounds, he’s been denied training opportunities and promotions, and received notice that he will be discharged from the Army, which will include the loss of his retirement benefits, including pension and medical care for his family.
Some believe the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will render a suit of this kind unnecessary due to a provision Republicans added rescinding the military’s COVID-19 mandate. Yet even the NDAA did not prevent Master Sergeant Galey’s unit from continuing to seek his separation from the Army.
Moreover, even if President Biden does sign the bill, what cannot be forgotten is two years of damages inflicted on faithful service members who chose not to take the vaccine for the sake of their faith. Many have already been separated or had their careers permanently damaged by the loss of promotion or training opportunities and are not addressed by the NDAA.
The suit claims these actions clearly violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as well as First Amendment, and Master Sergeant Galey is seeking to vindicate the law and Constitution.
“I am grateful that Congress has recognized the harm that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is having on the Army, but the NDAA changes won’t make me whole,” said Rob Galey, “I have missed out on training opportunities, been removed from leadership, and had my orders to an important follow-on assignment deleted, all for simply expressing my faith.”
The case is currently stayed pending the Army’s implementation of their rescission of the military vaccine mandate under the National Defense Authorization Act. We anticipate the Government will file a Motion to Dismiss arguing mootness that is similar to their approach in the Crocker case. We will oppose a Motion to Dismiss and ask the Court to rule on the important issues of religious discrimination that have been raised.
- Complaint. On December 19, 2022, the Pelican Institute filed its Complaint on behalf of Master Sergeant Galey in the Western District of Louisiana. The case was assigned to the Honorable James D. Cain, Jr.
- Legislation. On December 23, 2022, President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023, legislation that ordered the military to rescind the vaccine mandate. The legislation was passed after significant attention was brought to the issue because of cases like that of Master Sergeant Galey. The case remains stayed pending the Army’s implementation of the vaccine mandate rescission. We anticipate the Government will file a Motion to Dismiss arguing mootness that is similar to their approach in the Crocker case. We will oppose a Motion to Dismiss and ask the Court to rule on the important issues of religious discrimination that have been raised.
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