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Supreme Court: Navy doesn’t have to deploy unvaxxed Sailors

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

The Supreme Court this week temporarily blocked a lower court order that required the Navy to deploy Sailors who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

The decision centers around a case brought by 35 Navy SEALs and Sailors who said their religious freedom was being violated by the Navy’s vaccinate mandate. A lower court agreed and said the Navy cannot punish the plaintiffs and also must deploy them along with vaccinated Sailors.

On Friday, a divided Supreme Court blocked that portion of the lower court ruling, at least for now. The Court said the Navy can decide not to deploy the plaintiffs until further decisions are made in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the lower court ruling went to far and interfered with the military’s ability to carry out its mission.

“In this case, the District Court, while no doubt well-intentioned, in effect inserted itself into the Navy’s chain of command, overriding military commanders’ professional military judgments,” Kavanaugh wrote.

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch disagreed.

“By rubberstamping the Government’s request for what it calls a ‘partial stay,’ the Court does a great injustice to the 35 respondents — Navy Seals and others in the Naval Special Warfare community — who have volunteered to undertake demanding and hazardous duties to defend our country,” wrote Alito in a dissent that Gorsuch joined. “These individuals appear to have been treated shabbily by the Navy, and the Court brushes all that aside. I would not do so, and I therefore dissent.”

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