Navy should be held in contempt for violating court order on COVID vaccine exemptions: complaint

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Navy should be held in contempt for violating court order on COVID vaccine exemptions: complaint

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The U.S. Navy is violating a court order by allegedly blocking treatment for a traumatic brain injury and inflicting other forms of punishment on SEALs who requested religious exemptions to the coronavirus vaccine, according to a new legal complaint.

On Jan. 3, a federal court in Texas granted a temporary injunction against the Navy’s vaccine mandate after multiple SEALs sued President Biden. Judge Reed O’Connor, in issuing the order, argued that “[t]here is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment” and “[t]here is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

First Liberty, a religious liberty law firm, alleges that multiple SEALs continue to encounter a variety roadblocks due to their unvaccinated status.

First Liberty, a religious liberty law firm, alleges that multiple SEALs continue to encounter a variety roadblocks due to their unvaccinated status.
(iStock)

But First Liberty, a religious liberty law firm, alleges in Monday’s filing that multiple SEALs continue to encounter a variety roadblocks due to their unvaccinated status. 

One of those included a service member, identified as “Navy SEAL 26,” who requested permission to travel to a program for traumatic brain injuries. According to the complaint, “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.”

JUDGE ISSUES STAY AGAINST VACCINE MANDATE FOR NAVY SEALS SEEKING RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION

It added that the treatment center wouldn’t comply but “the result is that the Navy ran out the clock on SEAL 26’s request again: the treatment center had to give his spot to another patient because SEAL 26 had not been given approval to attend.”

Attorneys argued that holding the Navy in contempt was “the only way to prevent continued irreparable injury” to the SEALs.

In a statement provided to Fox News Digital, First Liberty general counsel Mike Berry denounced the Navy’s actions as religious discrimination. 

“It is reprehensible that the Navy would deny health care to a Navy SEAL suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury.  Despite the Court’s clear order prohibiting this kind of vindictive abuse, the Navy continues to punish and harass these warriors,” said Berry. “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.”

LAWSUIT FILED ON BEHALF OF NAVY SEALs FACING INTIMIDATION FOR SEEKING RELIGIOUS COVID-19 VACCINE EXEMPTIONS

The Navy declined comment, citing ongoing litigation.

Monday’s complaint followed brewing controversy over vaccine mandates within the military and the country as a whole. In December, news surfaced that a top-ranking Navy officer was relieved of his duty over a refusal to get tested for the coronavirus.

Cypriot Navy special forces and U.S. Navy SEALs take part in a joint rescue exercise in the southern Cypriot port city of Limassol on Sept. 10, 2021.

Cypriot Navy special forces and U.S. Navy SEALs take part in a joint rescue exercise in the southern Cypriot port city of Limassol on Sept. 10, 2021.
(Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP)

Fox News Digital previously reported on the Coast Guard requesting chaplains ask how frequently service members seeking an exemption attend religious services and how consistently they “keep the tenets of their faith.” 

If members cited the use of fetal stem cells, the draft guidance suggested asking whether “they have ever taken Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Aspirin, Ibuprofen,[ ]Benadryl, or Claritin, all of which were developed using fetal cells.”

COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE: MILITARY BEGINS DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS AGAINST REFUSERS

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which supports the military’s mandate, told Fox News Digital that the coronavirus vaccine shouldn’t be treated differently than others that members of the military have to receive.

“Members of the military are required to get numerous other vaccines and the COVID vaccine should be absolutely no different,” MRFF President Michael Weinstein told Fox News Digital via email. Weinstein clarified that MRFF did not support a mere administrative discharge for those who refuse the vaccine. Instead, he said MRFF supported court-martial and receiving less than an honorable discharge.

A group of Navy SEAL trainees in August 2010 during Hell Week at a beach in Coronado, California.

A group of Navy SEAL trainees in August 2010 during Hell Week at a beach in Coronado, California.
(Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)

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“MRFF has been contacted by over 700 American service members claiming a ‘religious objection’ to the COVID vaccine and requesting MRFF’s intervention and representation,” he said. “We DO consider we every request on a case-by-case basis. We have yet to find one that is even remotely meritorious.”

“The very first thing we ask them is if they objected to the other often numerous vaccines they were required by their chains of command to get. If their answer is ‘no’, we’re not buying that their sudden ‘religious objection’ to this COVID vaccine has anything to do with a ‘sincerely held religious belief’ and will most assuredly NOT take them on as a client. Unless the 35 Navy SEALS involved in this lawsuit can show a track record of seeking ‘religious exemptions’ for ALL of the other many vaccines they were required to have, their requests for a religious accommodation for this one are ridiculously specious and should be flatly denied.”

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