MRFF Files New DoD Lawsuit
Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has asked for two delays in the required timeline to file a response to the DoJ’s motion to dismiss the MRFF’s ongoing lawsuit. Reasons for the requests included the “number of pages” of supporting material in the DoJ motion, and the requests have been unopposed by the DoJ.
It appears, though, that the law firm representing the MRFF actually had other work keeping them busy: they have now filed a second lawsuit (text). Like the first, it takes a single “issue” (in this case, the requirement that soldiers attend events in which sectarian prayers are delivered) and lumps in every possible accusation against religion in the military. Much of the lawsuit is verbatim from other filings.
For example, it once again includes unspecified accusations against Officers’ Christian Fellowship. It also includes references to the Ft Wood “Free Day Away,” which, as noted, has already been investigated by the Inspector General and found to be in compliance with regulations. It also still includes complaints about the 523rd Fighter Squadron, which no longer exists, and hasn’t for some time.
Unlike the first lawsuit, it does say that the primary plaintiff, Specialist Dustin Chalker, sought permission not to attend the events through “his chain of command and the equal opportunity process,” which did not yield “satisfactory results.”
It is unclear why Weinstein would file a lawsuit now with such similarities to the first, unless he doubts the success of his current litigation. Indeed, if he thought he could win his current case, victory would make the second suit moot. Instead, the primary response of the DoJ, that the first plaintiff did not use the in-place grievance systems, has been the weakest point of the suit — and appears to be specifically addressed in the new complaint. History, and Weinstein’s decision to spend his time creating a new lawsuit rather than defending the current one, probably portend the dismissal of the first lawsuit.
By filing a now third lawsuit with a new “primary” complaint but the same underlying text, Weinstein seems to demonstrate that his plaintiffs are mere vehicles for his agenda. Perhaps more unfortunately, there is little more than notoriety in store for the young soldiers themselves.
Chalker has spent approximately six years in the military; the lawsuit contains only two complaints, one from late last year and one early this year. As recently as October 2007, Chalker told the Huntsville Times
Aside from an occasional rude comment, I haven’t had any problems from other soldiers due to my lack of religion…Most of the guys in my unit are pretty apathetic – we have more important things to worry about than invisible men.
Both plaintiffs know each other, and are actively proud of their atheism. According to internet sources, this photo was taken after the start of Jeremy Hall’s lawsuit. Hall is in the center, and Chalker is on the right:
Ironically, Weinstein has lambasted others who have posed with their military weapons and indications of their ideology. Apparently, the outrage does not apply when two of the people in the picture are his personal clients.
Photo credit: Unknown, though it appears on a variety of atheist websites, one of which credits Hall’s inaccessible MySpace page.