Amicus Brief

Singh v. Berger (U.S.C.A. District of Columbia, 2022)

In this case against the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), a Sikh USMC Captain and three Sikh Marine recruits filed suit to be able to serve with their articles of faith. This included a request for the recruits to attend Marine recruit training while maintaining their turbans and beards, which was prohibited in their initial limited religious accommodations. ADL, the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty, and Interfaith Alliance filed a motion to participate as amicus curiae in support of the plaintiffs. The motion, which was granted, acknowledges that courts give great deference to the military — but that this does not mean absolute deference. The subsequent amicus brief argues that Congress specifically intended for Sikh turbans, Jewish yarmulkes, and other religious apparel to be permitted in the military, and that military objections that doing so would damage “unit cohesion” and discipline were unfounded. Moreover, the brief argues, the Marine Corps has failed to provide concrete evidence showing how its unspecified interests in “unit cohesion” and “discipline” are harmed by Sikh recruits wearing religious apparel during recruit training. Finally, an adverse decision would lead to harsh consequences for amici and other people of faith in the military.