A Navy vaccine policy put forward by the Biden administration has been blocked by a federal judge on behalf of 35 Navy SEALs. The 35 men sued to challenge the decision of their suspension/disqualification from Special Operations after refusal to get their Covid-19 vaccination.
The US District Judge Reed O’Connor has blocked the decision made due to the Navy vaccine policy as the 35 SEALs who appealed have sought a religious exemption for the vaccine. Initially, the Navy became the first official institution to lay off people on refusal to get their vaccinations shots, without quoting a legitimate medical reason for exemption.
While filing the suit, the Navy officers accused the institution of harboring “disdain for religious vaccine accommodations” while entertaining “certain secular vaccine exemptions.” Initially, this decision allowed the Navy to take serious measures such as suspending officers, which is now officially blocked by the judge.
“The Navy service members, 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,” said Judge O’Connor in his order. It blocks the Navy from implementing any sort of severe consequences as part of the Navy vaccine policy, that deems officers non-deployable on account of their vaccination status, due to religious objections.
According to the suit, the Navy vaccine policy hinders the Free Exercise of Religion Clause of the Constitution along with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allowing individuals to exercise their religion freely and making decisions on behalf of it. Apart from religious claims in these specific suits, the court is looking into several other cases against the Biden administration’s other vaccine policies on the masses, especially on healthcare workers.
So far the Navy has not made any statement on the matter of this decision. According to documents in the court filing, approximately 99% of the Navy service members on active duty are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.