By Todd South | Marine Corps Times | United States |
WASHINGTON ― A lawsuit against the Marine Corps that would allow Sikh recruits to keep beards and wear turbans in boot camp, could take “years” to resolve, according to a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said this in federal court here Tuesday as the Sikh plaintiffs, three Delayed Entry Program poolees and a currently serving Sikh Marine captain, sought immediate action by the courts to that would require the Corps allow them to wear their articles of faith, core to the Sikh religion.
“These parties here, joined in an effort that will not be resolved for years,” Leon said. “That’s the practical reality.”
The judge’s comments referred to the lengthy court process, injunction attempts and likely future appeals by both sides.
The co-defendant urge the Corps to lift restrictions on the practice of their faith while in combat or recruit training.
By Todd South
Marine Capt. Sukhbir Singh Toor along with Jaskirat Singh, Aekash Singh and Milaap Singh Chahal filed the lawsuit in April, with assistance from the Sikh Coalition. The word “Singh,” means lion, in the Sikh faith is taken by men like a Christian baptismal name.
The lawsuit alleges that the Marine Corps discriminates against Sikh and other faiths by not allowing their constitutionally protected religious freedoms during recruit training and in other instances.
The three poolees are seeking a preliminary injunction. That is a legal means by which the courts can order the Corps to allow recruits to wear their articles of faith, Sikh or otherwise, immediately in recruit training. It would hold as official practice until the courts resolve the legal claims.
A comparable situation happened when service members sought in the early 2000s to halt the Pentagon’s mandatory anthrax vaccination policy. Though the legal questions were far from resolved at the time, the courts stepped in and temporarily stopped the vaccinations.
Read the full story, ‘Federal judge to decide if Sikhs can keep beards, turbans in Marine boot camp’ (Marine Corps Times, 1 July 2022), here.
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