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Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Navy Vaccine Mandate for 35 Challengers

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A U.S. Navy officer from the amphibious ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) receives a vaccine at the navy port in Manama, Bahrain, on February 26. This image was released by U.S Navy on February 27, 2021. (Brandon Woods/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Monday blocking the Department of Defense from taking action against 35 Navy service members who refused a Covid vaccine because of religious objections.

Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas issued the injunction after service members from the Navy SEALS and Naval Special Warfare Command sued the Biden administration over the military vaccine mandate.

Over 99 percent of active-duty Navy personnel are vaccinated for coronavirus, according to court documents in the case. The service members argued that they refused to take a Covid vaccine “for a variety of reasons based upon their Christian faith.”

“The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect,” O’Connor wrote in his 26-page injunction. “The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

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