An ongoing legal battle over whether the military can force troops to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has left the Navy with a warship they say they can’t deploy because it is commanded by an officer they cannot fire.
It’s a standoff the brass are calling a “manifest national security concern,” according to recent federal court filings.
The issues stem from a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida late last year alleging servicemembers’ rights are being infringed upon by the COVID vaccine mandate because their religious beliefs prevent them from taking the vaccine.
Judge Steven D. Merryday issue an order last month banning the Navy and Marine Corps from taking any disciplinary action against the unnamed Navy warship commander and a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel for refusing the vaccine.
In the process, the case has raised questions about the lines between military good order and discipline, and the legal rights of servicemembers as American citizens.
Merryday’s injunction is “an extraordinary intrusion upon the inner workings of the military” and has essentially left the Navy short a warship, according to a Feb. 28 filing by the government.