The Supreme Court on Friday sided with the Biden administration in a battle over COVID-19 vaccine requirements for a group of Navy SEALs and other special forces who sought a religious exemption.
Nearly three dozen Naval personnel, including 26 members of the elite Navy SEALs, asserted the Navy’s vaccine requirements violated the First Amendment’s guarantee that people may practice religion without government interference.
America First Policy Institute, representing 36 members of the Air Force, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, arguing the feds are not honoring religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. . . . The legal group claims the service members’ First Amendment rights are being violated and asked the court to block the mandate and rule it unconstitutional.
The Biden administration is now requesting the 6th Circuit dissolve or at least modify the 5th Circuit stay order, arguing that OSHA “reasonably concluded” the rule was necessary, and that constitutional concerns raised by businesses and states challenging it are meritless.
The opponents argue that the mandate exceeds OSHA’s authority and Congress’ ability to delegate to federal agencies, as well as the First Amendment, the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and laws protecting religious freedom, among other things.
It is unclear whether the president is legally empowered to compel the nation’s governors to take such an action. If the White House moves to enforce his order in defiance of opposition by local officials, Trump could force a constitutional clash over one of the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment.
The Justice Department argued in the filing that the city appeared to be targeting religious conduct by singling churches out as the only essential service (as designated by the state of Mississippi) that may not operate despite following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state recommendations regarding social distancing.