The numerous Navy SEALs fighting against the unconstitutional Covid-19 vaccine mandates recently scored a major victory after a federal appeals court denied an emergency stay of a preliminary injunction, preventing the Department of Defense (DoD) from punishing military service members with religious objections to the vaccine.
The Navy pleaded with the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to stay a preliminary injunction granted to the 35 Navy SEALs in January over the vaccine mandate.
Officials urged the court to allow the military to consider the unvaccinated status of the Navy SEALs when making “deployment, assignment and other operational decision,” arguing that “forcing the Navy to deploy plaintiffs while they are unvaccinated threatens the success of critical missions and needlessly endangers the health and safety of other service members.”
However, the three-judge panel denied the petition on Feb. 28.
In the court’s opinion, the panel argued the “Defendants have not shown a compelling interest to deny religious accommodations to each of these 35 Plaintiffs.” The court further added that the Defendants “lack a sufficiently compelling interest to vaccinate Plaintiffs.”
Moreover, the court attested to the inconsistency between how the Navy grants medical and religious exemptions.
“The Navy has granted hundreds of medical exemptions from vaccination requirements, allowing those service members to seek medical waivers and become deployable. But it has not accommodated any religious objection to any vaccine in seven years, preventing those seeking such accommodations from even being considered for medical waivers,” the panel claimed.
The First Liberty Institute, representing the Navy SEALs, first filed a lawsuit late last year against the Biden Administration and the DoD after refusing to grant religious exemptions to vaccine requirements. The suit specifically noted First Amendment violations pertaining to the mandate.
Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, applauded the court’s decision in a news release, saying, “It’s time for our military to honor its constitutional obligations and grant religious accommodations for service members with sincere religious objections to the vaccine. We’re grateful the Fifth Circuit denied the Navy’s motion.”
Service members remain hopeful their religious rights will be protected against unconstitutional vaccine mandates as the case is likely to head to the Supreme Court.