The Biden administration Monday requested the Supreme Court to review the case of 35 Navy SEALs and require them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Axios reported.
The 35 SEALs filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense's vaccine mandate, claiming religious exceptions. In early January, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor granted the SEALs a preliminary injunction.
"The Navy provides a religious accommodation process, but by all accounts, it is theater," O'Connor wrote at the time. "The Navy has not granted a religious exemption to any vaccine in recent memory. It merely rubber stamps each denial."
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Monday filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court, asking it to enforce the mandate to avoid the possibility of deploying unvaccinated Navy SEALs.
"Forbidding the Navy from considering respondents' unvaccinated status in making deployment decisions or other assignments will jeopardize the success of any missions to which they are assigned," Elizabeth Prelogar, solicitor general, argued in the application.
The Defense Department last year required all branches of the military to require its members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or risk discharge. As of early February, 3,350 soldiers had declined to get vaccinated. More than 100 Marines and dozens of sailors were discharged from the Army and Navy in December.
More than 15,000 military service members who have refused to comply with the vaccine mandate, according to Military.com. Approximately 12,000 religious-exemption requests have been filed.
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