Joshua Gill on July 28, 2017
Nonprofit law firm the First Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit against the Air Force Thursday for withholding information about the reported assault of a retired veteran for mentioning God in a speech.
First Liberty filed a FOIA request in December 2016 for information about the Air Force’s investigation into the assault of veteran Oscar Rodriguez, Jr. Several airmen kicked Rodriguez out of an Air Force base in April 2016 for mentioning God during a flag folding ceremony speech. The Air Force conducted two investigations into the ordeal when First Liberty claimed that the incident violated the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights of Rodriguez.
The Air Force released the results of the investigation concerning the First Amendment claim, in which they found there was no violation of rights. They have repeatedly withheld the results of the second investigation, 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.”
Berry told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he hoped the lawsuit sent a message the government can not successfully conceal violations of the rights of American citizens.
“We want justice for Oscar, and for people people serving in the military to be able to have faith in the system that if somebody breaks the law, they’re going to be held accountable for it, and that the military and the government can’t just sweep things under the rug and just ignore it and not turn over these documents to this investigation and expect people will just say ‘oh,’ shrug their shoulders, and walk away,” Berry told The DCNF. “Unfortunately we’ve been forced into this position where we have to hold their feet to the fire.”
Berry said Rodriguez’s case exemplified the growth of hostility toward religion cultivated under the Obama administration.
“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 said. “And why it’s so necessary for us to continue to fight to restore religious freedom in our military.”