Navy SEALs Win Injunction of Military Vaccine Mandate in Federal Court System
A federal judge has issued an injunction barring the Department of Defense from taking administrative action against 35 Navy SEALs who have declined to receive the coronavirus vaccine, potentially creating a legal stumbling block for further implementation of vaccine mandates within the US military.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor declared that the coronavirus pandemic provided no excuse for the federal government to abrogate the religious freedoms of Americans, stating that service members did in fact have the right to decline receiving a vaccine on religious grounds.
O’Connor wrote that “the loss of religious liberties outweighs any forthcoming harm to the Navy” in his Monday. The lawsuit, filed on the behalf of a group of Navy SEALs, represents the most organized challenge to the vaccine mandate of the US military to date. Special forces units in the military have incurred higher levels of vaccine refusal than others, with some elite organizations standing to lose a significant amount of personnel.
The lawsuit from the group of SEALs cited the indirect use of fetal cell lines originally obtained decades ago from aborted fetuses in the development of the coronavirus vaccine.
Both the Navy and the Marine Corps have denied every request from service members for religious exemption from vaccination, with critics of the process accusing the services of merely rubber-stamping each denial without real consideration of vaccine objectors.
The SEALs’ lawsuit targeted President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and other senior military officials. The injunction in place applies only to the litigants themselves who have cited a personal religious opposition to receiving vaccination.
First Liberty Institute, a legal organization that defends religious liberties, represented the special forces sailors in the suit against the federal government. The organization said that the ruling “sends a clear message to the Biden administration, to the Pentagon and to the Navy that our service members do not give up their religious freedom when they serve their country.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed the federal government was aware of the ruling on Monday, with Biden administration lawyers pledging they’d legally fight against the ruling at higher levels of the court system.
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