Press Release

Sikh recruits fight to serve both God and country Federal court to hear emergency appeal of three Sikh Marine recruits

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – Three Sikhs are fighting for their right to maintain religious beards and serve their country in the United States Marine Corps. Next Tuesday, a federal appellate court in Washington, D.C., will hear the emergency appeal of Aekash Singh, Jaskirat Singh, and Milaap Singh Chahal as they ask for religious accommodations during basic training. In Singh v. Berger, Becket, Winston & Strawn LLP, the Sikh Coalition, and Baker Hostetler are representing the recruits in their fight to freely exercise their religion throughout their service.

The Marine Corps refuses to accommodate Sikhs during basic training because it claims that will disrupt uniformity of appearance among recruits and ultimately undermine national security. But other U.S. military branches—including the largest, the Army—allow religious beards, as do respected militaries worldwide. And the Marine Corps already allows significant secular deviations from its uniformity requirements to diversify its ranks. It allows thousands of recruits to grow beards if they have pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps). It allows women to keep long hair. And it allows tattoos, including sleeve tattoos and tattoos on the face, neck, and hands. The Marine Corps itself will permit religious beards as well—but only after basic training, barring access to religious minorities. 

The Sikh recruits here are asking the government to provide them with religious accommodations that will allow them to serve, just as it has provided secular accommodations to allow others to serve. These Sikh men—and all other religious observers in the armed forces—should not have to choose between exercising their faith and serving their country.

Oral argument Singh v. Berger 

Eric Baxter, VP & senior counsel at Becket
Amandeep S. Sidhu, partner at Winston & Strawn LLP
Giselle Klapper, senior staff attorney of the Sikh Coalition

Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. ET 

Listen to the live stream here
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
333 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20001
Courtroom 31 

Becket will be hosting a Twitter Spaces event following the hearing with a post-argument reaction from Eric Baxter at approximately 2:00 p.m. ET. 

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Ryan Colby at or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.