Judge blocks Navy vaccine rule: “No COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment”

Nurse wearing a mask and Navy uniform prepares a vaccine.

Enlarge / A Navy nurse prepares a syringe. (credit: Getty Images | petesphotography)

US Navy Seals who objected to COVID vaccination on religious grounds yesterday won a preliminary injunction that prohibits the Navy from enforcing its vaccine mandate.

“Thirty-five Navy Special Warfare service members allege that the military’s mandatory vaccination policy violates their religious freedoms under the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in the ruling out of US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. “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.”

O’Connor, who was nominated by President Bush in 2007, found that the Navy service members are likely to win the case on the merits. He granted the injunction prohibiting the Navy from enforcing its mandate against the plaintiffs and “from taking any adverse action against Plaintiffs on the basis of Plaintiffs’ requests for religious accommodation.”

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