Judge blocks Western Michigan University from requiring vaccine for athletes

Posted at 3:17 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 15:19:13-04

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Tuesday blocked Western Michigan University from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement on four female soccer players, ruling they are likely to prevail on claims it violates their constitutional religious rights.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Grand Rapids issued the temporary restraining order on the day of the school’s deadline for athletes to get an initial shot or be unable to practice or compete. He said while the university had not had an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit, “WMU’s vaccination requirement for student athletes is not justified by a compelling interest and is not narrowly tailored.”

He scheduled a hearing concerning a temporary injunction on Sept. 9.

Unlike at other Michigan universities, Western’s vaccine requirement does not extend to all students and employees, though the unvaccinated do have to undergo weekly coronavirus testing. The four athletes said they were denied religious exemptions to play without getting a dose.

The Kalamazoo-based school did not immediately respond to a request for comment.