To Protect “Religious Freedom,” a Judge Still Won’t Let the Navy Deploy a Warship
U.S. District Judge Steven Douglas Merryday has effectively stopped the federal government from deploying a $1.8 billion warship and its 300-person crew, the Justice Department confirmed in a hearing at a federal courthouse in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday. The Navy will not deploy the ship, a guided-missile destroyer, until it can reassign the commanding officer, who refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But Merryday, a George H.W. Bush nominee, is blocking the officer’s reassignment, claiming the move would violate his religious freedom.