Sikh Denied ROTC Files Lawsuit

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the US Army on behalf of Sikh Hofstra University student Iknoor Singh, who was denied entry into ROTC because he would not comply with Army grooming standards that conflict with his religious beliefs.

From the filing (PDF):

When Mr. Singh asked for a religious exemption from these rules…, Defendants denied his request, despite approving similar religious and medical accommodations for other uniformed Army personnel in recent years.

Mr. Singh is now left with an untenable choice: Enlist as an ROTC Cadet and abandon the sacred religious practices that he has followed his entire life, or forfeit his dreams of joining ROTC–along with the many benefits of enlistment in the program…

Of course, “dreams” — even the dreams of American citizens — are not inherently constitutionally-protected. Further, the US Supreme Court has ruled that the US military has the ability to restrict religious accoutrements (Goldman v Weinberger). But that was in 1986 — it will be interesting to see if the Army or the courts will consider the situation differently this time.

A few years ago CAIR accused the Army of discrimination over a JROTC student who wanted to wear an Islamic headscarf in uniform. The Army reportedly altered its policies to allow Muslim — and Sikh — high school students to maintain their religious garb even when in uniform.

With reference to the Religion Clause, Long Island Press, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, CNN, and the ACLU.