Navy allegedly defying court order, punishing SEALs seeking religious exemptions to vax mandate

"Despite the Court's clear order prohibiting this kind of vindictive abuse, the Navy continues to punish and harass these warriors," said General Counsel for First Liberty Institute Mike Berry.

Published: February 2, 2022 2:35pm

Updated: February 2, 2022 11:09pm

The U.S. Navy is allegedly violating a federal court order to refrain from punishing Navy SEALs seeking Religious Accommodation Requests from the Pentagon's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to a motion filed this week in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

First Liberty Institute, representing the plaintiffs, filed the motion requesting the court hold a hearing to order the Navy and Defense Department to explain why they should not be held in contempt of court.

"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 alleged. "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."

The federal court ruled in January that the Navy "merely rubber stamps each denial" of COVID vaccine Religious Accommodation Requests, which the judge said was 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," the judge said. "There is no military exclusion from our Constitution."

The Navy told Just the News that it "doesn't comment on ongoing litigation."

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