A federal judge issued a temporary injunction on Monday that prohibits the Pentagon from requiring vaccination from the 35 Navy SEALs involved in the lawsuit until there is a trial or other court action.
Judge Reed O'Connor of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas wrote:
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. Every president since the signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has praised the men and women of the military for their bravery and service in protecting the freedoms this country guarantees.
In this case, members of the military seek protection under those very freedoms. Thirty-five Navy Special Warfare servicemembers allege that the military's mandatory vaccination policy violates their religious freedoms under the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Navy provides a religious accommodation process, but by all accounts, it is theater. The Navy has not granted a religious exemption to any vaccine in recent memory. It merely rubber stamps each denial. The Navy servicemembers 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.
O'Connor's ruling is a small, temporary victory compared to "thousands of requests for religious exemptions to the military vaccine mandate" that each U.S. military branch has received, according to the Daily Wire.
"Each branch has already hit its deadline for its members to receive the vaccine," The Daily Wire reports. "The Navy and Air Force began dismissing members on the basis of being unvaccinated last month."
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