Oscar Rodriguez, Jr. was kicked off an Air Force base in April 2016, and nonprofit law firm First Liberty Institute is trying to understand what happened and why.
According to reports, Rodriguez Jr., a veteran, mentioned God during a flag folding ceremony speech. He was removed from the ceremony by several airmen, which First Liberty Institute says is a violation of his First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights.
First Liberty filed a request in December 2016, asking for information about the Air Force’s two internal investigations into the incident. Concerning the First Amendment claim, the Air Force found there was no violation of rights. The results of the second investigation have repeatedly been withheld, according to a First Liberty press release.
“The Air Force is clearly hiding something,” said Mike Berry, director of military affairs for First Liberty Institute. “Federal law requires the government to make a determination within 20 days of a FOIA request, yet it’s been over 200 days and we haven’t received anything but delays. Whatever the Air Force is hiding, it must be really bad for them.”
Reportedly, Berry hopes to send a message with the lawsuit, and says they’re seeking justice for Rodriguez Jr. and other military personnel, attempting to give them “faith in the system.”
“If somebody breaks the law, they’re going to be held accountable for it,” Berry said, explaining that the military and the government shouldn’t be able to cover incidents up and pretend they don’t exist.
“Unfortunately we’ve been forced into this position where we have to hold their feet to the fire,” Berry said.
“I think this case is a perfect illustration of what has happened over the past 8 years, under the previous administration, to our military,” Berry concluded, saying Rodriguez’s case highlights claims that hostility toward religion flourished during the Obama administration. He says that’s “why it’s so necessary for us to continue to fight to restore religious freedom in our military.”
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