A Washington, D.C., district court judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) Thursday preventing both civilian and active-duty military employees from being terminated after they sued the Biden administration over religious exemptions to COVID vaccines, but the Biden Administration said it would not abide by the TRO.
District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sided with the Plaintiffs who claimed their employer’s refusal to allow a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate would result in irreparable harm, and prohibited the firing of both civilian and active-duty military federal employees while their religious exemption requests are pending, Fox News reported.
“None of the civilian employee Plaintiffs will be subject to discipline while his or her request for a religious exception is pending,” District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered. The judge also specified that “active duty military Plaintiffs, whose religious exception requests have been denied, will not be disciplined or separated during the pendency of their appeals.”
The court ordered defendants in the Biden administration, including all the secretaries of the departments in the executive branch, to send a memo by noon Friday confirming they will not discipline or terminate staff while the issue is still be adjudicated.
According to the complaint, “Plaintiffs, along with hundreds of thousands of other federal employees and active-duty service members will be terminated, discharged or separated on or before November 22, 2021.”
The Biden administration said in a filing it would not agree to halt the discipline and termination of any employees in the process of seeking a religious exemption to the vaccine pending the court’s ruling on the TRO motion.
“It is Plaintiffs’ burden to demonstrate impending irreparable harm…but Plaintiffs offer nothing beyond speculation to suggest that their religious exception requests will be denied and that they will be disciplined at all, much less on the first day that such discipline is theoretically possible,” wrote the Biden administration in its filing Friday.
According to the complaint, Plaintiffs are being “forced to choose which fundamental right is most important to them: (1) the right to freely exercise their religion; (2) the right to earn a living; or (3) the right to remain free from the forcible injection of a medication, such as a vaccine, into their nonconsenting bodies.”
The complaint further stated:
“Just like over two million other federal workers and 1.4 million active duty servicemembers, Plaintiffs are staring down the barrel of a rapidly approaching November 8, 2021 deadline that — absent the injunctive relief requested — will result in irreparable harm as their fundamental rights are trampled.
“Unless this Court issues a TRO (and preliminary injunction thereafter), Plaintiffs religious rights, bodily integrity and livelihoods (or even worse, lives) will be senselessly discarded, the status quo of our government and readiness of our military will self-implode and 336 million Americans will be laid prey to dangers far greater than COVID-19.”
The Biden Administration’s “vaccine mandates and the subsequent promulgation of its mass inoculation policy violate both, the United States Constitution and well-established federal law,” the complaint states.
“The instant situation epitomizes the exact scenario our Founding Fathers wanted to protect against at the time they drafted our nation’s Constitution. No American, let alone those who have dedicated their lives to serving this country, such as Plaintiffs, should ever be forced to choose one fundamental right in lieu of another — yet that is exactly the situation Plaintiffs face here.”
The Biden administration “has shown an unprecedented, cavalier attitude toward the rule of law and an utter ineptitude at basic constitutional contours,” the plaintiffs’ constitutional law attorney Michael Yoder told Fox News.
“This combination is dangerous to American liberty,” Yoder said. “Thankfully, our Constitution protects and secures the right to remain free from religious persecution and coercion. With this order, we are one step closer to putting the Biden administration back in its place by limiting government to its enumerated powers. It’s time citizens and courts said no to tyranny.”
“The Constitution does not need to be rewritten, it needs to be reread,” Yoder added.
The lawsuit is the latest the administration faces amid growing claims its vaccine mandates are unconstitutional.