Release: Fort Polk Master Sergeant Files Suit Against Biden Administration Over Religious Exemption Denial for Vaccine Mandate
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New Orleans–Today, the Pelican Center for Justice filed suit against the Biden Administration in the Western District of Louisiana. The suit was filed on behalf of Master Sergeant Robert W. Galey, Jr., and seeks an injunction against the administration’s unjust COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the United States Army.
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 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 has now 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.
“Courts across America have continually ruled against the administration over this mandate, choosing to protect the religious liberty of Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have made religious accommodation requests,” said Sarah Harbison, General Counsel at the Pelican Institute. “The Army should be no different.”
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 is not preventing 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.
“When the President signs the bill, the news cycle will no doubt try to move on,” said James Baehr, Special Counsel at the Pelican Institute. “Yet what will be left behind are real damages that continue to affect real people—including those who serve God and our country with the utmost devotion. What happened to Master Sergeant Galey and other men and women of principle should never happen in this country again. The Pelican Institute will not stop fighting for them.”
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 suit was filed in the Western District of Louisiana. This is the second case in which the Pelican Center for Justice has represented a servicemember over this unjust, unconstitutional vaccine mandate.