Navy rescinds punishments for SEALs seeking religious exemptions to COVID vaccine
The U.S. Navy rolled back an order punishing SEALs who refused COVID vaccinations based on their religious beliefs, Fox News reports.
On September 24, 2021, the Navy issued “Trident Order #12 –Mandatory Vaccination for COVID-19.” The order specified that “Special Operations Designated Personnel (SEAL and SWCC) refusing to receive recommended vaccines based solely on personal or religious beliefs will still be medically disqualified,” court documents revealed.
This order meant that SEALs were designated as “non-deployable” if they submitted religious accommodation requests exempting them from the COVID vaccine. All special warfare forces were initially expected to come into compliance with the vaccine mandate by the middle of October 2021.
The order was put on hold due to a preliminary injunction that was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in February 2022.
Fox News reports that a new filing in the lawsuit shows the Navy quietly reversed Trident Order #12 on May 22, 2022. A communication order was sent by the Navy on May 23 stating, “This order rescinds reference A.” “Ref A” was referred to as “Trident Order #12 on COVID-19 Vaccinations.”
Fox News Digital reached out to the Navy for clarification on whether the Navy replaced the order or why Trident Order #12 was being rescinded. “The Navy does not comment on ongoing litigation,” a Navy spokesperson responded.
Filings also show that the legal team representing the SEALs only became aware of the recession on September 1.
“To the best of counsel’s knowledge, Trident Order #12 was not replaced. As the Court will recall, Trident Order #12 stated that SEALs who are unvaccinated due to religious beliefs are medically disqualified, though SEALs who are unvaccinated due to medical reasons are not automatically disqualified. Trident Order #12 also implemented the COVID-19 vaccine mandate at the command level for Naval Special Warfare forces, setting a deadline of compliance for October 17, 2021,” the SEALs’ legal team wrote.
The 35 SEALs involved in the lawsuit are being represented by First Liberty Institute and Hacker Stephens LLP.
First Liberty’s senior counsel and director of military affairs, Mike Berry, told Fox News Digital, “Now that the Navy has rescinded this unlawful order, the only reason it won’t allow our SEALs to get back to doing their jobs is because of their religious beliefs.”
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