Western Michigan University's policy bans unvaccinated intercollegiate athletes from sports, even with a religious exemption. Federal District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney last month granted a temporary restraining order requested by Emily Dahl, Bailey Korhorn, Morgan Otteson, and Hannah Redoute, who were facing removal from the team's active roster if they did not comply with the policy by August 31 or be barred from participating in practice and playing in games.
WMU director of strategic communications Paula Davis says the policy is designed to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. But attorney David Kallman of the Great Lakes Justice Center explains that Judge Maloney granted the order because of the mandate's inequality.
"You could be attending there, playing intermural sports, being in orchestra, do lab classes, be in the dorm -- all that but not be vaccinated and just get tested and wear a mask," the senior legal counsel explains. "But if you were an athlete, you had to get vaccinated. That really makes no sense."
The school allows religious exemptions from vaccines, which the four concerned soccer players applied for.
"The school offered these religious exemptions but then did not grant, as far as we know, a single one," reports The Heritage Foundation's Jonathan Butcher. "So it's kind of a false pretense. It doesn't make any sense."
In light of the temporary restraining order, the school has compromised and agreed to let the temporary injunction apply to all school athletes. The temporary restraining order lasts for 14 days, but September 9th's ruling could end it early or convert it into a preliminary injunction.