The Coast Guard had pre-written justifications for denying COVID-19 vaccine exemption requests, according to documents obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Justifications in the document differ according to the position each Coast Guard member requesting an exemption occupied and where he or she was stationed, but each of the 30 listed follows a similar pattern of highlighting the operational requirements for each position and explaining why vaccination is necessary.
The DCNF could not determine exactly how those in charge of deciding exemption cases applied each justification to individual requests, but the document indicates they failed to consider the unique circumstances of each applicant, a violation of Coast Guard policy and U.S. law, experts told the DCNF.
“All the commander needs to do is sign the memo and the matter is finished,” Dwight Stirling, former military attorney and founder of the Center for Law and Military Policy, explained to the DCNF.
Coast Guard policy aimed at protecting First Amendment rights requires leaders to individually review each vaccine exemption request, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act says armed forces must demonstrate a “compelling interest” in overruling religious accommodations.
Mike Rose, general counsel for Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services, said he could not confirm whether the document was used to help the Coast Guard violate policy. However, he agreed that it appears to contain pre-written statements “designed to be applied automatically to each individual Coast Guardsmen based on the nature of their assignment.” . . .
. . .The document also contains language for commanders denying religious exemptions to any COVID-19 vaccine: “I am the adjudication authority for religious accommodation requests pursuant to reference (d),” it reads.
“I have carefully reviewed your request in accordance with references (d)-(f). Your request is denied,” it concludes, also with the final sentence in boldface.
The document does not contain any language that would seem to approve an exemption request.
Of 1,350 religious accommodation requests received since the mandate came into effect in August 2021, the Coast Guard approved 12, along with eight permanent medical exemptions, a Coast Guard spokesperson told the DCNF. . . . (read more on Daily Caller)