It’s a temporary win for the Navy SEALs that tries to point out the foundation of religious freedom we have, but it’s still a win. It could be seen as an attempt to slow the mandate long enough for people to find other jobs because the Biden administration is determined to vaccinate everybody. People are being honorably discharged from the Air Force and the Navy. The deadline to receive the vaccine has passed.
The SEALs have a win
Judge Reed O’Connor of the US District Court in northern Texas granted a temporary injunction to the Biden vaccine mandate for 35 Navy SEALs. This injunction only applies to this set of military though. The mandate marches on with the remainder of the military.
The SEALs are also not happy the Pentagon is slow to respond. No religious exemptions have been granted for that mandate yet. Thousands of requests have been submitted from the military branches. Some denials have come back but no approvals.
Part of O’Connor’s ruling
Our nation asks the men and women in our military to serve, suffer, and sacrifice. But we do not ask them to lay aside their citizenry and give up the very rights they have sworn to protect. Every president since the signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has praised the men and women of the military for their bravery and service in protecting the freedoms this country guarantees.
In this case, members of the military seek protection under those very freedoms. Thirty-five Navy Special Warfare servicemembers allege that the military’s mandatory vaccination policy violates their religious freedoms under the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Navy provides a religious accommodation process, but by all accounts, it is theater. The Navy has not granted a religious exemption to any vaccine in recent memory. It merely rubber stamps each denial. The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect. The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.
Having considered the briefing, oral argument, relevant facts, and applicable law, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction should be and is hereby GRANTED.
The SEALs do still have rights
That’s a reason the lawsuit was filed. The SEALs think their rights are being violated. Their beliefs span Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant.
The lawsuit reads that each member has, “sincerely held religious beliefs forbid each of them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for a variety of reasons based upon their Christian faith as revealed through the Holy Bible and prayerful discernment. Plaintiffs believe that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that was tested, developed, or produced using aborted fetal cell lines would force them to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by causing them to participate in the abortion enterprise, which they believe to be immoral and highly offensive to God.”