DOD Attempts to Reinstate COVID Mandates, Denied by Federal Judge
March 2, 2022 - A panel of federal judges in Texas blocked an attempt by the DoD to push through emergency vaccine mandates for Navy members.
This past week, the Biden administration attempted to reinstate a federal mandate in which Navy and Navy SEAL members would be required to receive the COVID vaccine. It was presented in the court of appeals after the mandate was previously overturned. However, the attempt was unsuccessful, and the mandate was not returned into law at this time.
It is worth noting that additional military branches do have a mandate in place that is being actively upheld by federal law. Particularly, this includes the U.S. Army, whose members have been required to become vaccinated or be forcibly removed from service. The same has been true with Air Force members, with the exception of a court-ordered case wherein a single airman was allowed to cite religious freedom to avoid receiving the COVID shot.
The Navy’s mandate was first put into place in fall of 2021, requiring members to become fully vaccinated by mid November of the same year. However, when a group of Navy members went to court to have the amendment overturned, their appeal was granted, citing religious freedoms by a federal judge in Texas.
The Department of Defense then filed an emergency stay request, which was subsequently denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The decision was officially announced February 28th of 2022.
The initial appeal was filed by Navy SEALs and other Navy sailors through First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit company out of Plano, Texas. Earlier in 2021, a judge halted the mandate, while the February decision prevented further and timely movement of the same.
“Our military should be welcoming service members, not forcing them out because of religious beliefs,” they said in a public statement.
The court announced that evidence had suggestibly been “stacked against” exemptions, specifically those that were supported by the plaintiffs’ commanding officers and chaplains. The panel consisted of three judges, who stated the reasoning for their decision.
However, no further public details were given as to what that evidence was or how it was used against soldiers and their religious beliefs.
There is no denying that much public controversy has been displayed after the on sought of vaccine mandates, but this decision proves that soldiers and sailors can fight back and protect their religious beliefs. It’s a landmark decision among the COVID controversy, which isn’t slated to end any time soon.
Whether you are against or for any type of vaccine, this decision sets a legal precedence as to what can and cannot be forced upon military members and their medical decisions.
Stay tuned for future announcements on this subject and how vaccine mandates may continue to change for Navy members, SEALs, and their subsequent family members, including those with specific religious beliefs.
To learn more about Navy members and SEALs in the news, stay tuned for future blogs.