A federal judge gave the military a major win when he blocked the Pentagon from punishing any Navy sailors who refused to receive the Covid-19 vaccine for religious reasons.
The Hill reports:
A group of 35 Navy Special Warfare service members — including SEALs, special warfare combatant craft crewmen, divers and an explosive ordnance disposal technician — filed a lawsuit challenging the Navy’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Nov. 9, contending that the Navy’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate breached their religious freedom.
Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas noted in his ruling that the Navy denied at least 29 of the 35 religious accommodation requests. He said of the religious accommodation process, “by all accounts, it is theater,” adding that the branch “merely rubber stamps each denial.”
“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,” wrote O’Connor, who was appointed by then-President George W. Bush.
“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,” he added.
The Pentagon said it is studying the ruling and that the matter “will require litigation.”