Navy SEALS Win a Preliminary Injunction Over COV Vaccine

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A federal court has granted a preliminary injunction to a group of 35 Navy Special Warfare servicemembers. Included are 26 Navy SEALS, who sued the Biden administration for denying them religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The preliminary injunction, issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, stops the Department of Defense from taking any actions against the group for refusing the jab while litigation plays out.

First Liberty Institute filed the lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction on behalf of the Navy service members on Nov. 9, 2021.

“The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect,” Judge Reed O’Connor said in his order (pdf) on Monday.

“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 also wrote, “Defendants must provide more than a broadly formulated interest in ‘national security.’ They must articulate a compelling interest in vaccinating the thirty-five religious servicemembers currently before the Court.”

“Without individualized assessment, the Navy cannot demonstrate a compelling interest in vaccinating these particular Plaintiffs,” he wrote in another part of the order. “By all accounts, Plaintiffs have safely carried out their jobs during the pandemic. … Even if Defendants have a broad compelling interest in widespread vaccination of its force, they have achieved this goal without the participation of the thirty-five Plaintiffs here. At least 99.4 [percent] of all active-duty Navy service members have been vaccinated. …  The remaining 0.6 [percent] is unlikely to undermine the Navy’s efforts.”


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