AG urges court to respect religious liberty in COVID vaccine mandates

FILE - A health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination...
FILE - A health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic in Reading, Pa., Sept. 14, 2021. Pfizer asked U.S. regulators Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, to authorize its combination COVID-19 vaccine that adds protection against the newest omicron mutants — a key step toward opening a fall booster campaign.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 2:47 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - In regard to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Attorney General Derek Schmidt has urged a court to respect religious liberty.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says on Wednesday, Aug. 30, he told a federal court that men and women who serve in the armed forces should not be required to comply with COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

AG Schmidt said he joined 21 other state attorneys general to file the brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to support a group of Navy SEALS who have sought exemptions from the administration’s vaccine mandate on grounds that it violates their religious beliefs.

The Biden administration has repeatedly argued that the military should be given extraordinary deference in its decision to direct compliance with the mandate.

“The Biden administration just won’t relent in its determination to force Americans to bend to its will on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination,” Schmidt said. “So we won’t stop fighting to protect the jobs and liberties of Kansans, and especially the men and women serving in the armed forces.”

Schmidt said the AGs argued that many states have managed to balance fundamental freedoms and sensitive interests during the pandemic. He said Kansas is one of several states that passed a law to require religious objections to COVID vaccine mandates to be respected.

The AGs also noted that the Biden administration’s actions have been met with legal skepticism - as shown by actions in the federal judiciary to strike down several COVID vaccine mandates.

U.S. Department of Defense data reported that 105,277 COVID cases were reported in the Navy, 17 deaths and one hospitalization. Yet, only 47 religious accommodations requests have been approved and more than 4,200 remain pending.

Schmidt said the case had previously reached the U.S. Supreme Court where justices stayed a lower court decision, “insofar as it precludes the Navy from considering the respondents’ vaccination status in making deployment, assignment, and other operational decisions.”

The case has been remanded back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Schmidt noted that several other similar cases around the nation remain pending.

To read a full copy of the brief, click HERE.