Skip to comments.6th Circuit blocks university's vaccine mandate, sides with athletes seeking religious exemption
Posted on 10/13/2021 7:22:35 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
A federal court has sided with college athletes seeking a religious exemption from a university’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, preventing the school from enforcing the mandate against the plaintiffs.
A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit sided with a group of 16 student-athletes at Western Michigan University, upholding a lower court decision finding that the school violated their First Amendment rights by denying their requests for religious exemptions from the requirement that all student-athletes take the coronavirus vaccine.
The decision noted that “in some cases, the university denied the student-athlete’s application” for a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate while in other cases, “the university failed to respond but still barred the student-athlete from further participation in college sports.” In August, the students sued the school’s board of trustees, its athletic director and its “associate director of institutional equity” for preventing them from participating in sports while the school considered their requests for religious exemptions on an individual basis.
In the ruling, published Thursday, the judges concluded that “by conditioning the privilege of playing sports on plaintiffs’ willingness to abandon their sincere religious beliefs, the university burdened their free exercise rights.”
The appellate court ruling comes after university officials appealed the lower court ruling handed down on Sept. 13 by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, asking both the district court and appellate court to stay the injunction allowing the 16 unvaccinated plaintiffs to participate in sports as the legal proceedings continued. Both the district court and the appellate court declined to do so.
The three-judge panel cited its unanimous prediction that “the free exercise challenge will likely succeed on appeal” as the justification for its decision to deny the appeal.
“The university put plaintiffs to the choice: get vaccinated or stop fully participating in intercollegiate sports. The university did not dispute that taking the vaccines would violate the plaintiffs’ ‘sincerely held Christian beliefs.’ Yet refusing the vaccine prevents plaintiffs from participating in college sports, as they are otherwise qualified (and likely recruited) to do.”
In a statement, David Kallman, senior counsel with Great Lakes Justice Center, which is representing the plaintiffs, reacted favorably to Thursday’s ruling: “We are thrilled for our clients that the Sixth Circuit vindicated their religious convictions and that they can continue to be a part of their teams, be with their teammates, and compete for WMU at the highest level in a safe manner.”
“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,” he added.
Western Michigan University also weighed in on the decision. Its athletic department released a statement, which was obtained by Fox 2 Detroit: “We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect our student-athletes and our athletic program. Our vaccine policy plays a critical role in keeping athletes safe and ensuring they are able to compete throughout the season without disruption. We will continue to abide by the court’s decision and allow the student-athletes in the matter to fully participate in their sport while we also consider the next steps in their case.”
Western Michigan University is not the only institution of higher education to face a lawsuit over vaccine mandates directed at some or all of its students. A student and a faculty member at the University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine have filed a lawsuit against the school for refusing to grant their religious objections to the coronavirus vaccine mandate. The school asked the student to take a “leave of absence” from his coursework and threatening the faculty member with termination.
A challenge to Indiana University’s vaccine mandate filed by students seeking religious exemptions went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied the request to overturn a lower court decision upholding the mandate. Creighton University, a Jesuit-affiliated school with campuses in Nebraska and Arizona, is also the subject of a lawsuit by four students seeking a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate.
Squeeky wheel——Why isn’t “Because I don’t want it!” good enough?
Judge upholds MSU’s vaccine mandate against a professor who cited natural immunity
Posted By Steve Neavling on Mon, Oct 11, 2021 at 11:37 am
A federal judge has ruled against a Michigan State University employee who claimed in a lawsuit that the school’s vaccine policy is unconstitutional and irrational because she already has “robust immunity” after recovering from a COVID-19 infection.
Jeanna Norris, a supervisory administrative associate and fiscal officer at MSU, asked the court to block the vaccine mandate on the basis of natural immunity.
U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney on Friday denied the preliminary injunction, saying “there is no fundamental right to decline a vaccination” and “if she chooses not to be vaccinated, she does not have the right to work at MSU at the same time.”
Maloney also disagreed with the argument that the vaccine mandate is irrational because Norris has natural immunity. MSU’s mandate is based on guidance from state and federal health agencies, the judge wrote.
“Put plainly, even if there is vigorous ongoing discussion about the effectiveness of natural immunity, it is rational for MSU to rely on present federal and state guidance in creating its vaccine mandate,” Maloney said.
The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), a conservative-libertarian law firm that filed the lawsuit, said its weighing its next steps.
“Ms. Norris courageously brought this lawsuit to vindicate the constitutional rights of individuals with naturally acquired immunity to COVID-19 who are subject to irrational vaccine mandates,” Jenin Younes, an attorney with the NCLA, said in a statement. “While we are disappointed by today’s order, we are committed to fighting for the rights of COVID-recovered Americans to decline a medically unnecessary vaccine without having to sacrifice their livelihoods.”
In a similar case on Sept. 30, a federal judge ruled against a professor who argued that the University of California’s vaccine mandate shouldn’t apply to him because he has immunity from a past coronavirus infection.
In her complaint, Norris said her immunologist advised her that it’s not medically necessary to get vaccinated because recent antibodies tests showed she was immune to reinfection. But studies have shown that recovering from COVID-19 doesn’t guarantee immunity, and antibodies diminish over time. Research also suggests that vaccines offer stronger protection than natural immunity alone, especially against variants.
“If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in August. “Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious delta variant spreads around the country.”
Because collectivism cares not for the will of the individual.
Yay! Now there is a federal ruling that can be referenced.
It’s interesting to see the various “balance” rhetoric. here we have the privilege of playing sports being protected. In other cases, the stakes are a job.
Devil’s advocate, how is my religious freedom affected by denying me a place on the sports team? What about the priviledge of eating in a restaurant? Is that more or less witghtly than the privilege of playing on a sports team?
Once a court entertains the power of the government to vax the unwilling, things get really stuipd, really fast.
What a farce. This fake “vaccine doesn’t even work — yet it’s created 9 new Pharma billionaires! Dr. Jonas Salk really missed out. He didn’t even patent his vax. Then started a non-profit lab. No billions for ol’ Jonas.
All these people suddenly finding religion is so heart-warming.
Please don’t read into this, because I am certainly for religious rights and against abortion... and this is a generalized observation... no particular individuals in mind here... but...
I find it extremely interesting how when so many celebrities, athletes, etc. are all of a sudden forced to take an injection that they see may actually kill them, they so quickly turn to a legal defense that is based on a belief in God and against the killing of babies in the womb.
(A federal court has sided with college athletes seeking a religious exemption from a university’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, preventing the school from enforcing the mandate against the plaintiffs)
Don’t be an ass; the six girls were observant Christians before any of this crap was thrown in their laps.
Maybe they’ll be even MORE observant now, knowing the stakes go beyond their cell phone screens.
It ought to be.
I think the only reason any of these elites are grudgingly giving religious exemptions is that they don't want to violate the 1st Amendment, which so obviously protects one's freedom of religion.
I think it's pretty obvious that the "spirit" of the 1st Amendment should protect someones' freedom of thought or conscience. Otherwise, we end up in the absurd position that someone who has serious scientific objections to the vaccine doesn't get an exemption, but the person who simply says "God told me not to get it", that person gets an exemption???
CERT-ain! As certain as when I predicted this just 3. days. ago.
"...Monday pleas please! from the MSM to the White Hospice, to do something, anything! about COVID fatigue, which both pieces and the weekend shows incorrectly assess as the root of Biden's puppet-state problems.
And on the radio just now, just like that, top-of-the-hour NPR showed their hand: "COVID cases PLUMMETING in the US!" NPR. Plummeting COVID cases in the US.
Coming to an agitprop factory near you, the cabal has decided that the virus is played out, particularly among none other than the Socialist goons themselves. Would look for a major Federal court decision in the near future permanently injuncting against the experimental serum mandate. People want to fly, and go about their business without the god damn government all up in their grill."
#42 posted on 10/11/2021, 3:27:59 PM by StAnDeliver
I read that wrong.
I thought it said Auschwitz.
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