A federal choose granted a preliminary injunction on Monday blocking the Division of Protection from taking “any opposed motion” in opposition to 35 Navy sailors who’ve refused to get vaccinated in opposition to the coronavirus, arguing that it violated their non secular freedoms.
The service members — together with Navy SEALs and members of the Naval Particular Warfare Command — had filed go well with in opposition to the Biden administration arguing that their “sincerely held non secular beliefs forbid every of them from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine for quite a lot of causes based mostly upon their Christian religion.” The Pentagon had mandated that every one active-duty troops obtain the vaccine.
The choose, Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas, successfully blocked the division from punishing these troops.
“Our nation asks the women and men in our army to serve, undergo, and sacrifice. However we don’t ask them to put apart their citizenry and quit the very rights they’ve sworn to guard,” Decide O’Connor wrote in his 26-page order. He added: “The Covid-19 pandemic supplies the federal government no license to abrogate these freedoms. There isn’t a Covid-19 exception to the First Modification. There isn’t a army exclusion from our Structure.”
The group represents a small fraction of active-duty troops from the USA, and as of mid-December, most active-duty troopers and members of the Navy had received at least one dose of the vaccine. 1000’s have requested non secular exemptions, and none have been granted thus far, officers stated in December.
The choice follows one other injunction by a choose in November in opposition to President Biden’s nationwide vaccine mandate for well being care employees.
Decide O’Connor, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, has reliably tossed a number of Democratic insurance policies which were challenged on the federal bench. In response to the injunction on Monday, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, wrote on Twitter, “It is a main win!”
A spokesperson for the Pentagon couldn’t instantly be reached for remark. However on Monday night, John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, stated that protection officers have been reviewing the injunction, in response to The Washington Post.