E Point Perfect
Law \ Legal

DC Circuit: Marines Must Accommodate Sikh Recruits in Boot Camp


In Singh v. Berger, (DC Cir., Dec. 23, 2022), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a preliminary injunction to two Sikh Marine Corps recruits who seek an accommodation to wear unshorn hair, beards and certain articles of faith during boot camp training. The court, relying on RFRA, said in part:

So the Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success comes down to whether the Marine Corps has demonstrated a compelling interest accomplished by the least restrictive means in refusing to accommodate their faith for the thirteen weeks of boot camp. The Marine Corps has failed to meet its burden on both fronts….

[T]he Marine Corps argues that excepting the Plaintiffs from the repeated ritual of shaving their faces and heads alongside fellow recruits, and permitting them to wear a head covering, will impede its compelling interest in forging unit cohesion and a uniform mindset during boot camp….

… Colonel Jeppe’s claimed compelling need for inflexible grooming uniformity does not stand up against the “system of exceptions” to boot camp grooming rules that the Corps has already created and that seriously “undermine[]” the Corps’ contention that it “can brook no departures” for Plaintiffs….

To sum up, Plaintiffs have demonstrated not just a likely, but an overwhelming, prospect of success on the merits of their RFRA claim. At a general level, the Government has certainly articulated a compelling national security interest in training Marine Corps recruits to strip away their individuality and adopt a team-oriented mindset committed to the military mission and defense of the Nation. But RFRA requires more than pointing to interests at such a broad level…. The Marine Corps has to show that its substantial burdening of these Plaintiffs’ religion furthers that compelling interest by the least restrictive means. That is where the Marine Corps has come up very short…. 

Becket issued a press release announcing the decision.


Source link

Related posts

Correction Officer Psychological Screening – LexBlog

This week’s podcast episode: Innovative products: Understanding the regulatory and enforcement risks

Children sick in Scottish E. coli outbreak

Man contracts Cyclospora after Mexican holiday; others report illnesses

Troutman Pepper Weekly Consumer Financial Services Newsletter

August Hashtag Holidays to Incorporate Into Your Social Media Calendar