Marine Corps’ New COVID-19 Policy Does Not Go Far Enough to Protect Religious Objectors to Vaccine: Attorney

todaySeptember 18, 2022

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Within the aftermath of a federal court docket order quickly blocking the Marine Corps from taking motion towards service members looking for spiritual exemption to the vaccine mandate, the department, in a steering launched on Sept. 14, quietly rolled again a few of its penalties towards spiritual objectors to the vaccine.

However, in keeping with an legal professional combating towards the army’s vaccine mandate in one other lawsuit, the steering does the naked minimal in imposing the court docket order and doesn’t defend service members from all penalties for refusing the vaccine, such a promotion holds and the denial of alternatives for abroad deployment.

The interim steering states that, “the Marine Corps won’t implement any order to just accept COVID-19 vaccination, administratively separate, or retaliate towards Marines within the class for asserting statutory rights underneath the Spiritual Freedom Restoration Act.”

It additionally states that, “Commanders shall pause all administrative actions associated to the involuntary separation of a category member, whatever the present standing of the separation course of (e.g., no orders will likely be given to obtain the vaccine, no counselings will likely be issued for refusing the vaccine, no administrative separation boards will likely be performed …).”

The steering made reference to the Aug. 18 momentary injunction issued by a Florida federal court docket barring the Marines Corp. from punishing members whose spiritual lodging requests have been denied.

Mike Berry, whose authorized work at First Liberty Institute helped safe a preliminary injunction in early January that stopped the Division of Protection from taking any motion towards a gaggle of Navy SEALs who’ve spiritual objections to the vaccine mandate, stated the brand new steering didn’t go far sufficient in observing the federal court docket injunction.

For instance, paragraph 4.d. nonetheless supplies for as much as a 12-month delay in promotion for these ranked from non-public top notch to sergeant. “That is straight counter to the injunction, as a result of promotions are being delayed over refusal to take the COVID shot,” Whitaker stated. “That is retaliation in my view.”

For Berry, “the promotion holds point out that the [guidance] is just doing the naked minimal of what’s required by legislation, that’s, they received’t be punished or kicked out.” Thus, there are nonetheless penalties for refusing the vaccine.

Moreover, the steering states, “Commanders might contemplate vaccination standing in making project, deployment, and different operational choices.” It provides that, “Marines not totally vaccinated will not be thought-about to be worldwide deployable and shall be assigned or reassigned regionally.”

In response to Berry, “that is nothing greater than one other method for them to make use of the auspices of an operational resolution or an project resolution to finish anyone’s profession, or on the very least, shorten anyone’s profession.”

Though the unvaccinated will not be being punished or terminated, Berry stated, “by placing on their document that they’re not worldwide deployable and might solely be regionally assigned, they’re primarily taking steps to take away the service member.”

“Whereas it might not appear like it’s supposed to railroad a Marine’s profession, it is going to actually have that impact—and I imagine that’s been the intent all alongside,” he added.

“They’re searching for intelligent methods to make use of loopholes and technicalities to power folks out,” in keeping with Berry. For instance, what occurs if a Marine can’t promote? he requested. “If they will’t promote as a result of they don’t have any deployments or different career-enhancing alternatives overseas, most people are going to voluntarily present themselves to the door.”

Lt. Col. Madison Whitaker (a pseudonym) who has served almost 18 years within the Marine Corps additionally expressed disappointment within the language within the interim steering. He spoke to The Epoch Instances utilizing a pseudonym to guard his id, fearing reprisals.

Whitaker stated that robust management is absent in what he described as “tyrannical” decision-making insurance policies.

“It makes you marvel who on the Pentagon and who on the Choose Advocate division of the Marne Corps is advising senior leaders to proceed to place out this type of language,” stated Whitaker.

“In some unspecified time in the future, there must be an grownup in that small room of advisers that’s keen to take a loss and attempt to reverse course,” he added.

“That would definitely assist the devasting impact the vaccine has had on retention and recruiting.”

Whitaker stated that “extra must be accomplished to push again.” He pointed to a petition signed by over 6,000 folks calling for a Congressional investigation of the Division of Protection’s enforcement of the vaccine mandate.

The Epoch Instances has reached out to the Marine Corps looking for a response to criticisms of the interim steering.

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J.M. Phelps is a author and researcher of each Islamist and Chinese language threats. He is on Twitter at @JMPhelpsLC

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