The U.S. military’s COVID-19 jab mandate has been blocked for all Navy members seeking religious exemptions, The Epoch Times reports.
A preliminary injunction that previously covered 35 Navy SEALs now includes around 4,000 other service members.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee who entered the original ruling in January, agreed to expand it in part because all members who have applied for religious exemptions “have all been harmed in essentially the same way.”
“Each is subject to the Navy’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Each has submitted her religious accommodation request, and none has received accommodation. Without relief, each servicemember faces the threat of discharge and the consequences that accompany it. Even though their personal circumstances may factually differ in small ways, the threat is the same—get the jab or lose your job,” he said in a 27-page order.
Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Navy Members Seeking Religious Exemptionshttps://t.co/Z6GCl91U9A
— Justice Centre (@JCCFCanada) April 1, 2022
Judge blocks Navy from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandate against soldiers who have religious objections https://t.co/5zWs1XATPD #FaithDrivenVentureCapital #FaithDrivenInvestors #FaithDrivenEntrepreneurs
— Faith Driven VC™ 🏔 (@FaithDrivenVC) March 31, 2022
Read the 27-page order HERE.
The Supreme Court last week gave the Biden Administration a temporary win in the case, ruling that Navy commanders can consider a member’s COVID-19 jab status when deciding on deployment.
Mike Berry, a lawyer with First Liberty Institute, which represents the plaintiffs in the case, said the new ruling means “anyone in the U.S. Navy whose religious accommodation from the vaccine mandate was denied is now protected from any sort of punishment or involuntary separation, things like that.”
The Christian Post added:
“Plaintiffs decided to pursue a class action on behalf of 4,095 Navy servicemembers who have filed religious accommodation requests,” wrote O’Connor.
“Here, the potential class members have suffered the ‘same injury,’ arising from violations of their constitutional rights. Each has submitted a religious accommodation request, and each has had his request denied, delayed, or dismissed on appeal.”
The decision added that a “finding in favor of the Named Plaintiffs on their [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] and First Amendment claims also resolves the RFRA and First Amendment claims of the class.”
“By resolving the Navy Class’s common questions, this Court may provide relief to all servicemembers in the class and subclasses,” continued the decision. “Even though their personal circumstances may factually differ in small ways, the threat is the same — get the jab or lose your job.”