Judge Grants Relief to Navy Seals Suing Biden Over Vaccine Mandate: “There is No COVID-19 Exception to the First Amendment”

'The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect,' wrote federal district court judge.

Image Credits: pamelasphotopoetry / iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Over 30 members of the US Navy suing Biden administration officials over unconstitutional vaccine edicts were granted relief by a federal judge Monday.

In a 26-page preliminary injunction, US District Judge Reed O’Connor lambasted the Biden military vaccine mandate, saying military members don’t surrender their rights when they join the service.

“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,” O’Connor wrote.

“In this case, members of the military seek protection under those very freedoms.”

O’Connor went on to criticize the Navy’s religious exemption process, calling it merely “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,” O’Connor pointed out. “There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

“This Court does not make light of COVID-19′s impact on the military. Collectively, our armed forces have lost over 80 lives to COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic,” he added.

However, the “loss of religious liberties outweighs any forthcoming harm to the Navy” and “even the direst circumstances cannot justify the loss of constitutional rights.”

The judge’s order addresses a lawsuit filed last November against Biden and other administration officials by 35 US Navy members, including 26 Navy Seals, who accused the Navy of violating their rights to reject vaccine mandates on religious grounds.

According to the lawsuit, the servicemen were subjected to retaliation and intimidation by the Navy after refusing the mandatory vaccines, despite filing religious objections.

Moreover, the plaintiffs took issue with the fact that the vaccines were developed and tested using aborted fetal cell lines, which goes against their sincerely held religious beliefs.

“All Plaintiffs have submitted religious accommodation requests. The Navy has denied twenty-nine of those requests,” O’Connor noted, adding, “It has granted none.”

Speaking to the Washington Post, First Liberty Institute counsel Michael Berry praised Judge O’Connor’s order, saying it “sends a clear message to the Biden administration, to the Pentagon and to the Navy that our servicemembers do not give up their religious freedom when they serve their country.”

Berry indicated the institute would “defend this as far as it needs to go” if the Biden admin appeals the decision.

“Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday night that defense officials were aware of the injunction and reviewing it,” the Post reports.

The order comes as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who’s listed as a defendant in the Navy servicemembers’ lawsuit, tested positive for Covid-19 Sunday, despite receiving two vaccine doses and a booster jab.

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