KALAMAZOO, Mich. (Great Lakes News)  – Sixteen athletes at Western Michigan University (WMU) can continue playing intercollegiate sports despite refusing a Covid-19 shot mandated by the school.

Federal District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney has received a stipulated consent judgment to enter a permanent injunction.  That means the prior preliminary injunction had been upheld in a unanimous, published decision
by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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The appellate judges decision states that WMU violated the athletes’ First Amendment rights by denying
their requests for a religious exemption from the mandate.

That decision is now binding precedent in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The Great Lakes Justice Center (GLJC) filed the federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of sixteen athletes challenging WMU’s unlawful denial of their request for religious accommodation from the college’s vaccine mandate to participate in sports. The students represent numerous teams at WMU including the football, baseball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer, dance team, and cross-country programs.

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David A. Kallman, Senior Counsel with GLJC, stated, “We are pleased that WMU has agreed to resolve this matter, that our clients’ religious convictions were vindicated, and that they can continue to be part of their teams, be with their teammates, and compete for WMU at the highest level in a safe manner.”