In a rebuke of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccination mandates for members of the military, a three-member U.S. Navy administrative board unanimously cleared a 22-year veteran officer who refused to get vaccinated.
The board decided in favor of Lt. Bill Moseley, who was facing disciplinary action and separation for not getting vaccinated, due to religious reasons, in line with Biden's federal mandate for military personnel.
In a press release, Moseley’s attorney, R. Davis Yount, said that the separation board unanimously decided May 20 to retain the officer after proving that the Food and Drug Administration approved version of the vaccine was not available to military members.
"Lt. Moseley opposes the vaccine for religious reasons and could have submitted a religious accommodation request; however, when he learned that the Navy and the other services intended to implement a blanket denial policy, he began to prayerfully consider other options,” Yount’s press release said.
"After consulting with legal and medical experts, he became convinced that as an officer, he had an obligation to take a stand against the unlawful order and be a voice for thousands of enlisted sailors."
Biden enacted the mandate for the military in August 2021, requiring all personnel to get the vaccine by September, a U.S. News and World Report said at the time.
"I will seek the president's approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon" licensure by the Food and Drug Administration "whichever comes first,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a memo at the time, according to the report.
A Texas federal judge granted an injunction in January preventing the Navy from acting against 35 sailors who refused the vaccination on religious grounds, the Navy Times reported.
The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled in March that the Navy could take a sailor’s vaccination status into account when determining an assignment or deployment for those sailors.
"Navy personnel routinely operate for extended periods of time in confined spaces that are ripe breeding grounds for respiratory illnesses, where mitigation measures such as distancing are impractical or impossible," the publication reported administration lawyers writing to the court.
"A SEAL who falls ill not only cannot complete his or her own mission, but risks infecting others as well, particularly in close quarters, including on submarines."
According to his LinkedIn profile, Moseley was a systems test officer on the USS Bunker Hill, and responsible for overseeing weapons, system operations, and maintenance.
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