The Federal Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of 16 college athletes who challenged Western Michigan University’s Corona virus vaccine mandate.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit unanimously sided with the students Thursday, upholding a district court ruling that ordered school authorities to force players to be vaccinated.
The students claimed that the school did not reject or reconsider their request for religious exemption due to the need for vaccines.
“The failure of the university to grant religious exemption to the plaintiff has burdened his right to free exercise. The court wrote in its order, the university put the plaintiff in the choice: get vaccinated or stop participating in intercollegiate sports altogether.” “By placing the plaintiff’s right to play sports on the basis of the plaintiff’s desire to renounce his sincere religious beliefs, the university burdened his right to free exercise.”
A Western Michigan University spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The school informed the students via text message that they would need the COVID-19 vaccine to participate in sports during the school year. Officials said they would review religious and medical exemptions on an individual basis.
But the court noted that the school failed to consider applications for religious exemption or was completely ignored. As a result, the students filed their first amendment lawsuit against the university.
The case is pending before Judge Ralph Guy Jr., a Reagan spokesman. Appointed by David McKag, Bush and Chad Riedler, a Trump appointee.