US Court Bars Pentagon From Punishing Seamen for Vaccination Refusal
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – A US court has prohibited the Department of Defense from sanctioning Navy personnel for their refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, despite a vaccine mandate for the entire American military, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
The ruling is in response to a suit filed by a group of 35 seamen in November 2021 against US President Joe Biden and some members of his administration – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, as well as the Pentagon, over an order of compulsory vaccination for the US military adopted on August 25.
The defendants sought to be exempted from vaccination on religious grounds.
“[The] loss of religious liberties outweighs any forthcoming harm to the Navy,” US District Judge Reed O’Connor said in a Monday ruling, as cited by the newspaper.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that the department was aware of the court decision, which it is currently studying.
In October, the US Navy set a timeline for full vaccination by 28 November. Unless they follow the order, personnel will be discharged. The deadline for vaccination of reservists was 28 December.