Federal judge blocks the Defense Dept. from punishing Navy forces who refuse the vaccine.

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U.S.|Federal justice blocks the Defense Dept. from punishing Navy forces who garbage the vaccine.


Military unit   astatine  Fort Bragg, successful  North Carolina, getting a aesculapian  screening earlier  vaccination successful  February 2021. 
Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Livia Albeck-Ripka

  • Jan. 4, 2022, 1:02 a.m. ET

A national justice connected Monday granted a preliminary injunction blocking the Department of Defense from taking “any adverse action” against 35 Navy sailors who person refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, arguing that it violated their spiritual freedoms.

The work members — including Navy SEALs and members of the Naval Special Warfare Command — had filed suit against the Biden medication arguing that their “sincerely held spiritual beliefs forbid each of them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for a assortment of reasons based upon their Christian faith.” The Pentagon had mandated that each active-duty troops person the vaccine.

The judge, Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas, efficaciously blocked the section from punishing those troops.

“Our federation asks the men and women successful our subject to serve, suffer, and sacrifice. But we bash not inquire them to laic speech their citizenry and springiness up the precise rights they person sworn to protect,” Judge O’Connor wrote successful his 26-page order. He added: “The Covid-19 pandemic provides the authorities nary licence to abrogate those freedoms. There is nary Covid-19 objection to the First Amendment. There is nary subject exclusion from our Constitution.”

The radical represents a tiny fraction of active-duty troops from the United States, and arsenic of mid-December, astir active-duty soldiers and members of the Navy had received astatine slightest 1 dose of the vaccine. Thousands person requested spiritual exemptions, and nary person been granted truthful far, officials said successful December.

The determination follows different injunction by a justice successful November against President Biden’s nationalist vaccine mandate for wellness attraction workers.

Judge O’Connor, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, has reliably tossed respective Democratic policies that person been challenged connected the national bench. In effect to the injunction connected Monday, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, wrote connected Twitter, “This is simply a large win!”

A spokesperson for the Pentagon could not instantly beryllium reached for comment. But connected Monday evening, John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said that defence officials were reviewing the injunction, according to The Washington Post.

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