U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney blocked Western Michigan University (WMU) from enforcing a COVID-19 shot mandate against athletes, enabling all four soccer players to remain on the team’s active roster until the matter is resolved in court.
WMU recently instituted a requirement for all its athletes in all sports to take the COVID-19 injection or forfeit their right to play intercollegiate sports. No similar “vaccine” requirement exists for any other students at WMU.
School officials informed the four female soccer players on August 12 that they could no longer practice and would be kicked off the team if they did not get a COVID shot by August 31, 2021. The athletes were provided the opportunity to request religious accommodations on August 24, 2021. They immediately filed their requests because getting the injection violated their Christian beliefs. Then WMU denied all their religious exemption requests. Their requests to appeal the denials were rebuffed by WMU on August 26, 2021.
These soccer players filed a lawsuit that challenges WMU’s unlawful denial of their request for religious freedom from the college’s “vaccine” mandate to participate in sports. All four athletes are on scholarship and include two team captains. The students requested injunctive relief to allow them to remain on their team while litigation is pending.
On Tuesday, Judge Maloney granted a temporary restraining order for the soccer players and ruled that they are likely to prevail on claims that Western Michigan’s “vaccine” mandate violates their constitutional religious rights. The judge scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for September 9 and said that the burden is on the school to “establish the compelling reason for its actions” and to “explain why the decision to remove the unvaccinated players from intercollegiate competition is narrowly tailored.”
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This is a great victory against these unlawful COVID shot mandates. Schools and employers violate federal law when they deny a person’s religious exemption. No school or employer may force or coerce anyone to take these injections, and certainly not when doing so violates sincerely held religious beliefs.”