NEWS & ANALYSIS

Navy Allegedly Violating Court Order, Punishing SEALs Seeking Religious Vaccine Exemption


The U.S. Navy is allegedly defying a federal court order to refrain from punishing Navy SEALs seeking religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

First Liberty Institute, representing the plaintiffs, filed a motion requesting the court to hold a hearing to order the Navy to explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court, Just the News reports

“Navy SEAL 26 continues to be denied permission to travel to a treatment program for traumatic brain injuries, which this Court already called an ‘egregious example’ of harm suffered by Plaintiffs,” the motion claims. “Continuing to ignore this SEAL’s medical needs, even in the face of the Court’s explicit recognition of the harm to this SEAL in the preliminary-injunction order, is simply inexcusable.”

The SEAL offered to pay for his own travel to treatment, but was denied after “multiple high-ranking Naval officers in SEAL 26’s command began calling the treatment center and asking if it would deny treatment to someone who is unvaccinated,” which delayed his request and caused his spot at the treatment center to be lost.

Another plaintiff has been forced to remain at a training location for four months instead of four weeks and “is required to get special permission from the Commanding Officer to leave the base for any reason, even to get groceries or fill his car with gas,” according to the motion.

Meanwhile, other SEALs are also being denied opportunities for training and deployment.

“It is reprehensible that the Navy would deny health care to a Navy SEAL suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury,” Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute, said in a statement.

“Despite the Court’s clear order prohibiting this kind of vindictive abuse, the Navy continues to punish and harass these warriors,” he added. “The Navy continues to deny our clients training and deployment opportunities and is assigning these soldiers menial tasks instead of allowing them to defend our country. This religious discrimination must stop.”

In January, the federal court ruled that the Navy “merely rubber stamps each denial” of vaccine religious exemption requests, which the judge called unconstitutional.

“Our nation asks the men and women in our military to serve, suffer, and sacrifice,” Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in his approval of the preliminary injunction against the vaccine mandate for the 35 plaintiffs. “But we do not ask them to lay aside their citizenry and give up the very rights they have sworn to protect.”

“There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment,” he added. “There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”