This week US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly enjoined the US military from implementing a ban on enlisting transgenders. Interestingly, the ruling claimed the US military opposed its own policy [emphasis added]:
The Court finds that a number of factors — including the sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered by the directives, the unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement of them, the fact that the reasons given for them do not appear to be supported by any facts, and the recent rejection of those reasons by the military itself — strongly suggest that Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claim is meritorious.
The ruling is interesting for a couple of reasons — reasons which indicate it will either easily be overturned or will otherwise portend a new relationship among the judiciary, the US Constitution, and the US military.
The plaintiffs — described as “current Read more
Court-martialed Marine LCpl Monifa Sterling has appealed to the US Supreme Court, alleging her religious liberty was violated when she was convicted for not removing Bible verses posted to her desk.
The Supreme Court has not yet agreed to hear the case — and there are already significant briefs being filed in her support.
Critics like Michael “Mikey” Weinstein have tried to frame her case as a Christian trying to inappropriately “expose” others to their beliefs — and thus deserving of court-martial.
However, people who actually support religious freedom — rather than advocate discrimination against Christians as Weinstein does — are coming out in support of Sterling.
This includes a substantial number of significant and high profile non-Christians. Those supporting Sterling’s case with amicus briefs include: Read more
Carl Forsling, a retired Marine MV-22 pilot, recently took to Task and Purpose to criticize the current Supreme Court appeal of court-martialed Marine LCpl Monifa Sterling. One part of Sterling’s case, as you’ll recall, centered on her decision to post a paraphrased Bible verse on her desk — which she was ordered to take down. Forsling opines:
Sterling worked in a customer-service job at an ID center, so people conducting their official business had to read the verse. This made effectively made something that was supposedly for her own personal inspiration into proselytization.
To quote Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word…” How does a posting a verse from Isaiah translate into an attempt to convert other people to a religion? In short, it doesn’t, but claiming that Read more
Rabbi Hanoch Teller has continued his now long-running series on Jews in the US military whose religious exercise, and their interaction with the military leadership, ultimately set the stage for military religious freedom today.
In Part VIII, Teller expounds on some of the backstory to Rabbi Goldman’s attempt to wear a yarmulke in uniform, highlighting the military’s need to have a “compelling interest” and Read more
As promised, Rabbi Hanoch Teller has continued his previously discussed series on Jews in the US military with the continuing story of Simcha Goldman, who became famous as the Airman who sued, won, and then lost in Goldman v Weinberger — and ultimately Read more
Over at the Jewish Press, Rabbi Hanoch Teller has a fascinating series tracing in storytelling form several major stories in the history of Judaism in the US military. The first two articles describe the story of Mitchell Geller, who after many years of military service starting in the 1950s was ultimately forced out over a beard he refused to shave — resulting in him losing his retirement. The interesting end to the story can be read in Part II.
The third and fourth articles in the series begin the story of S. Simcha Goldman, the Navy chaplain turned Read more
Noah Feldman, a columnist for Bloomberg and professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard, recently penned an article appealing for public support against Mississippi’s religious protection statutes [emphasis added]:
Signed in April, the Mississippi law calls itself the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” …
It should be held unconstitutional because it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment by singling out one set of religious beliefs for positive treatment.
To buttress his argument against “the danger of religious exemptions,” Feldman cited Goldman v Weinberger, the landmark case in which the US Supreme Court Read more
While many continue to focus on promoting “sexual liberty” within the US military — primarily open service by homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, etc-sexuals — few have come to the aid of Sikhs who want to serve in the US military. (Sikhs wanting to serve in the US military have received more press in India than the US.) Sikhs seek a waiver not for behavior, but for their religious beliefs. Kamal Singh Kalsi, a Sikh who obtained an exception to the uniform policy and was allowed to serve wearing a beard and turban, recently highlighted the inability of Sikhs to serve, as well as the increasing calls for the DoD to “fix” policies that prevent them from joining:
With the support of the advocacy group The Sikh Coalition, 105 members of the House of Representatives and 15 senators sent letters to the Department of Defense urging the U.S. armed forces to modernize appearance regulations so patriotic Sikh Americans can serve the country they love while abiding by their articles of faith.
The re-write earlier this year of religious accommodation regulations in the US military would presumably have made it easier for Sikhs to obtain an exception and join while wearing the accoutrements of their faith. However, Read more