Pentagon Barred from Punishing Navy SEALs Refusing COVID Vaccine

Acting in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of 35 special forces service members, US District Judge Reed O’Connor blocked the US Department of Defense from punishing a group of Navy SEALs and other special forces members who refused Covid-19 vaccine on religious grounds.

The lawsuit was filed in November against President Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro and the DOD to challenge the Navy-imposed jab mandate.

The plaintiffs – a group of Navy SEALs and other members of Naval Special Warfare Command – cited Christian beliefs that are preventing them to take a vaccine developed from aborted fetal cell lines.

They also consider a modification of their bodies as an “affront to their Creator” although Pope Francis has urged the Catholics to get the jab on humanitarian grounds

President George W. Bush-appointed Texas judge issued on Monday a preliminary injunction blocking the Navy and the DOD from enforcing the mandate, underscoring that not a single religious exemption to the vaccine rule has been granted by the Navy.

Judge O’Connor wrote in his 26-page decision that the pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate the very freedoms the Navy servicemembers – who had faced a range of military discipline actions for refusing the jab – in this case have sacrificed so much to protect and now seek to vindicate.

His decision has been hailed as a victory by First Liberty Institute, the legal organization dedicated to defending US religious freedoms.

Its general counsel Mike Berry has stressed that forcing the servicemen to choose between their faith and serving their country is abhorrent to the Constitution and America’s values.

Judge O’Connor’s ruling, which Pentagon hasn’t commented yet, is raising questions on how it might shape the Pentagon’s requirement that all US troops get vaccinated and is the latest in a string of legal challenges the Covid-19 vaccine mandates.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday night that the DOD is aware of the injunction on the Covid-19 vaccine mandates ordered by President Biden – that have proven deeply controversial among conservatives- and is reviewing it.

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