A Sikh college student recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army for barring him from joining the Reserve Officer Training Corp simply because of his beard and turban.
Now, a federal judge has made her ruling on this case, and you may be surprise by the result.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled in favor of Iknoor Singh, who was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, therefore forcing the ROTC organization at Hofstra University to accept the boy, even though he has a turban and beard.
Jackson acknowledged that the military must enforce uniformity among their ranks. However, she ruled that the military must also follow the laws that protect religious freedom, which tipped “the scale in favor of individual religious rights.” The judge went on to say that at least 100,000 members of the military have been granted exemptions to grow beards for various reasons. These exemptions have included a handful of Sikhs in the past, who were allowed to join the army with their beards and turbans.
“Given the tens of thousands of exceptions the Army has already made to its grooming and uniform policies, its successful accommodation of observant Sikhs in the past, and the fact that … plaintiff is seeking only to enroll in the ROTC program, the Army’s refusal to permit him to do so … cannot survive the strict scrutiny that (the law) demands,” Jackson told the court.
We would never argue against religious freedom. However, the American military has always operated under their own rules, and those who join the armed forces know that in doing so they are giving up their individual rights for the greater good.
Do you think the court made the right ruling in this case? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.