Sixteen unvaccinated athletes won another round in their legal battle to play sports, despite Western Michigan University’s mandate that all of its athletes get the Covid ClotShot.

 

In a unanimous published decision issued Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit 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.”

 

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.

 

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 Am, prevents a state from ‘prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion. 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.

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