[Rushtalk] Court Sides With Unvaccinated Michigan Athletes in Mandate Case

Carl Spitzer {C Juno} cwsiv at juno.com
Fri Oct 22 19:14:26 MDT 2021

Court Sides With Unvaccinated Michigan Athletes in Mandate Case
By Steven Kovac
October 8, 2021 Updated: October 9, 2021 
Sixteen unvaccinated athletes won another round in their legal battle to
play sports, despite Western Michigan University’s mandate that all of
its inter-collegiate athletes get the COVID-19 vaccination shot.

In a unanimous published decision issued Oct. 7, the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio, held that the
university violated the athletes’ First Amendment rights.

All 16 athletes had filed for religious exemptions, which, according to
the court, the university “ignored or denied.”

The court stated: “The university put plaintiffs to the choice: Get
vaccinated, or stop fully participating in intercollegiate sports. By
conditioning the privilege of playing sports on plaintiffs’ willingness
to abandon their sincere religious beliefs, the university burdened
their free exercise rights.”

The three-judge panel denied a request by the university to stay a lower
court’s preliminary injunction that stopped it from enforcing the
vaccination mandate.

The mandate would have barred the athletes from playing in games, or
even practicing with their teams, unless they were immunized against the
CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

Attorney David Kallman, senior counsel with the Great Lakes Justice
Center, who represents the athletes, told the Epoch Times: “It’s a great
win for our clients and for religious liberty.”

According to Kallman the court’s decision is now a “binding precedent”
in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

In a press release, Kallman wrote: “The Sixth Circuit Court vindicated
their (his clients) religious convictions and that they can continue to
be part of their teams.

“We trust all parties can move forward in a spirit of cooperation to
uphold the important constitutional issues at stake, as well as taking
appropriate measures to ensure the safety of everyone at WMU.”

The order affirms: “The First Amendment, as incorporated through the
14th Amendment, prevents a state from ‘prohibiting the free exercise’ of

The 14th Amendment also guarantees equal protection under the law.

Western Michigan University has no vaccination mandate for the student
body as a whole.

However, its athletes are still required to wear masks at practice and
be regularly tested for the virus. Those policies were not addressed in
the athletes’ complaint.

University officials did not immediately respond to a request for

Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of
Michigan. He is a former small businessman, local elected official, and
conservative political activist. He is an ordained minister of the
Gospel. Steven and his wife of 32 years have two grown daughters. 


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