Western Michigan University Soccer Athletes Win The First Round In Court
I wrote this morning about four Western Michigan University student-athletes who asked the Great Lakes Justice Center (GLJC) to bring a federal civil rights lawsuit against their University on their behalf. These four female athletes play for Western’s soccer team and they believe that WMU violated their religious rights.
WMU mandated that all of their student-athletes receive a Covid-19 vaccine. If they refuse to they would be kicked off of their team as of today August 31st. A press release from the Great Lakes Justice Center States that the athletes were allowed to request a religious accommodation starting on August 24, 2021. All four students requested a religious exception and all four of them were denied that exemption two days later.
The lawyer representing them David Kallman, from the Great Lakes Justice Center, asked the court for “injunctive relief to allow them to remain on their team while litigation is pending”.
I was called today after my radio show by Mr. Kallman to inform me that the ruling on that injunctive relief came down this afternoon and they were granted that relief. He also informed me that three other WMU student-athletes contacted him this afternoon and informed him their religious exemptions were also denied by the University.
A press release from the Great Lakes Justice Center stated:
Federal District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney issued an order effective at 1:30 p.m. today granting the Temporary Restraining Order requested by four women athletes at Western Michigan University (WMU)…As a result of the order, Judge Maloney enjoined WMU from carrying out its threat to kick all four athletes off the soccer team later today for refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine against their religious objections. A hearing date has been set for September 9, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. in Judge Maloney’s courtroom in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Judge Maloney ruled:
Plaintiffs have established a likelihood of success on their claim that WMU’s denial of a religious exemption from vaccine requirement for its student athletes violates Plaintiffs’ right to the free exercise of religion. Defendants are enjoined from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement against Plaintiffs. Defendants may not prevent Plaintiffs from participating in team activities for the reason that Plaintiffs have not received a COVID-19 vaccine.
In his ruling the judge also wrote:
"When law forces an individual to choose between following her religious beliefs or forfeiting benefits, the law places a substantial burden on the individual's free exercise of religion,"
I interviewed their lawyer David Kallman on my show this morning before Judge Maloney’s ruling. The interview starts at the 6:00 minute mark: