President Joe Biden’s endeavor to reimpose a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for the U.S. Navy was stopped by a federal appeals court Monday.
The court’s decision follows a Fort Worth district judge’s temporary halt to Biden’s mandate in early January while the case was under consideration, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The original mandate, which required service members receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by November 2021, was challenged by a group of active duty Navy SEALs seeking religious exemptions. (RELATED: This Family’s Decades-Long Military Service Ended Due To The COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate)
“Vaccine mandate for Navy SEALs to remain blocked, U.S. Court of Appeals rules”: David Silva Ramirez of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has this report on a per curiam opinion that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued today. https://t.co/34rI7M5wsk
— Howard Bashman (@howappealing) March 1, 2022
The court found that Biden’s Department of Defense (DOD) did not demonstrate “‘paramount interests’ that justify vaccinating these 35 Plaintiffs against COVID-19 in violation of their religious beliefs.” The court also stated that the Navy prepared unvaccinated SEALs for deployment during the pandemic, which “undermined” the Navy’s alleged “compelling interest” in a vaccine mandate.
The court also noted that the Navy had provided exemptions to 17 other service members without giving a reason for “differentiating those service members from Plaintiffs.” Additionally, the ruling stated that the Navy did not give reasons specific to the plaintiffs in their letters denying religious exemptions.
Ultimately, the court agreed with the district judge’s ruling to halt the vaccine mandate, stating that “Defendants have not shown a compelling interest to deny religious accommodations to each of these 35 Plaintiffs.”