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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court granted the Biden administration’s request for a partial stay of a preliminary injunction that had barred the administration from considering COVID-19 vaccination status in the deployment and assignment of Navy SEALs.

In January, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor granted a preliminary injunction barring the administration from enforcing the mandate against SEALs with religious objections to the shots, ruling there is “no Covid-19 exception to the First Amendment” and “no military exclusion from our Constitution.” But religious freedom law firm First Liberty alleged the following month that the Navy was subjecting the SEALs to other forms of punishment for their noncompliance.

On Friday, the nation’s highest court stayed that order “insofar as it precludes the Navy from considering respondents’ vaccination status in making deployment, assignment, and other operational decisions,” pending a decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Writing in support of the stay, moderate Trump-appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the District Court had “in effect inserted itself into the Navy’s chain of command, overriding military commanders’ professional military judgments,” flying in the face of the deference historically granted to the executive branch in military matters.

In a dissenting opinion joined by more conservative Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch, conservative Justice Samuel Alito accused the majority of doing a “great injustice to the 35 respondents — Navy Seals and others in the Naval Special Warfare community — who have volunteered to undertake demanding and hazardous duties to defend our country”; and of giving the Navy “carte blanche to warehouse respondents for the duration of the appellate process, which may take years. There is no justification for this unexplained and potentially career-ending disposition.”

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who was hospitalized this week, dissented as well but offered no written elaboration.

Last August, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed the secretaries of all military branches to “immediately begin full [COVID] vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces” and “impose ambitious timelines for implementation.” The vast majority of service members complied, but tens of thousands remain unvaccinated, with many seeking exemptions.

Several thousand have secured exemptions for non-religious reasons, but the military has been largely unwilling to approve religious exemptions to the shots, which were developed and/or tested with the use of fetal cells from aborted babies. In December, the military began discharging soldiers for vaccine refusal.

While defenders of vaccine mandates are quick to point out that the military has long required soldiers to vaccinate against a range of diseases due to the harsh and exotic locales soldiers are sent to for extended periods of time and the close quarters they typically share with one another, previous vaccines were typically subjected to far more evaluation and development time before being put into widespread use than the COVID shots received during their accelerated clinical trials.

During a COVID-19 vaccine hearing held by Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in January, attorney Thomas Renz presented medical billing data from the Pentagon’s Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) showing that 2021 saw drastic spikes in a variety of diagnoses for serious medical issues over the previous five-year average, including hypertension (2,181%), neurological disorders (1,048%), multiple sclerosis (680%), Guillain-Barre syndrome (551%), breast cancer, (487%), female infertility (472%), pulmonary embolism (468%), migraines (452%), ovarian dysfunction (437%), testicular cancer (369%), and tachycardia (302%).

In a statement to left-wing “fact-checking” outlet PolitiFact, Defense Health Agency’s Armed Forces Surveillance Division spokesperson Peter Graves confirmed the authenticity of the records but claimed that a conveniently-timed “data corruption” glitch made the pre-2021 numbers appear far lower than the actual numbers of cases for those years, an explanation that PolitiFact took at face value.