Navy Halts Discharges of Sailors With COVID-19 Religious Exemption Requests

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The Navy suspended the discharges late on Tuesday of sailors who’ve refused to adjust to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate after a Texas choose dominated {that a} case involving vaccine-refusing Navy SEALs would apply to the complete Navy.

Simply days after his January order to halt any Navy motion towards 35 sailors was narrowed by the Supreme Courtroom to now not inhibit deployment choices by the service, U.S. District Decide Reed O’Connor granted the sailors request to broaden the case out to a category motion that features “4,095 Navy service members who’ve filed non secular lodging requests,” the Monday ruling stated.

O’Connor then ordered the Navy to halt any motion towards the 1000’s of sailors prompting the Navy’s pause.

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In line with a duplicate of the Navy-wide message supplied to by the Navy, the service will cease separation proceedings towards any sailor who submitted a request for non secular exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

“Hostile administrative penalties and separation processing … proceed to use for personnel who didn’t submit requests for non secular lodging,” the message added.

It isn’t clear if the Marine Corps, which falls below the Division of the Navy, can even observe go well with. reached out to the Marine Corps however didn’t hear again earlier than publication.

Sailors who’ve chosen to voluntarily go away the service or switch to the Fleet Reserve after getting their lodging requests denied can cancel or amend these requests, although the message notes that “time is of the essence for up to date requests.”

O’Connor’s order famous that, given the Supreme Courtroom’s ruling, the Navy can think about sailors’ “vaccination standing in making deployment, project, and different operational choices.” The Navy’s message additionally famous that it had that choice.

When requested Tuesday about O’Connor’s determination, neither the Navy nor the Division of Justice provided any remark.

Legal professionals for the Division of Justice argued that the Navy has a robust curiosity in sustaining a totally vaccinated pressure and, in a court docket doc arguing towards making the case a category motion, famous that “simply because [the Navy SEALs] disagree with the power of the Navy’s compelling governmental curiosity doesn’t imply that the Navy is performing in dangerous religion or unlawfully in denying non secular exemption requests.”

In January, Vice Adm. Invoice Merz, the Navy’s operations and technique boss, advised reporters that regardless of a fully-vaccinated operational pressure, the ocean service was nonetheless seeing instances on ships and that vaccines have been essential to conserving the extra extreme outbreaks, just like the one which sidelined the destroyer USS Chafee for greater than a month in 2021, at bay.

“Now we have turn into very constant at sea once more, and I might inform you, if I needed to put a greenback worth on it, it is in all probability decrease than it was a 12 months in the past due to the flexibility to have the ability to handle [COVID-19] at sea [and] return to regular operations,” Merz advised reporters.

As of final Wednesday, the date of the latest replace, the Navy had discharged simply over 650 active-duty and reserve sailors over the vaccine mandate.

The department has not granted any non secular exemption requests to active-duty sailors however it did give 9 conditional approvals to sailors within the Particular person Prepared Reserve, a non-drilling element of the reserve corps, with the understanding that, if known as up, they might get the photographs.

— Konstantin Toropin may be reached at Observe him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Associated: Decide Stops Navy from Discharging Any Non secular Vaccine Refusers

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