- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2022

The Biden administration on Monday asked the Supreme Court to unblock a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for the military and allow the Navy to consider vaccination status when deploying service members.

A lower court imposed the injunction after service members challenged the mandate, citing religious exemptions. The administration said the injunction usurps the Navy’s authority on making decisions about which military personnel serve in what capacity.

The filing notes one service member who is unvaccinated had to deploy on a submarine, against the wishes of officials.

“This application seeks relief from a preliminary injunction that usurps the Navy’s authority to decide which service members should be deployed to execute some of the military’s most sensitive and dangerous missions,” the filing read.

“The Navy has an extraordinarily compelling interest in ensuring that the service members who perform those missions are as physically and medically prepared as possible. That includes vaccinating them against COVID-19, which is the least restrictive means of achieving that interest,” the Biden administration argued.

The petition was presented to Justice Samuel A. Alito. He could grant or deny the request on his own, or refer it to the full court.

The challenge to the vaccine mandate was brought by 35 Navy SEALs and other personnel, challenging the COVID-19 vaccine requirement in the military sans religious exemptions.

The district court issued an injunction against the government’s mandate and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit denied the government’s request to lift the injunction, prompting the Biden administration to go to the high court.

Justice Alito asked the lawyers for the servicemen to respond by next Monday to the government’s request.

Mike Berry, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, which has filed lawsuits challenging the military’s shot requirement, said the lower courts got it right.

“There is no COVID exception to our Constitution. But the Biden Administration appears to be more interested in promoting its harmful agenda than in defending the Constitution,” Mr. Berry said.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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