Judge blocks West Michigan vaccination warrant for athletes – CBS Detroit



LANSING, Michigan (AP) – On August 31, a federal judge barred Western Michigan University from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement against four female footballers, ruling they are likely to outweigh claims it violates their constitutional religious rights .

District Judge Paul Maloney in Grand Rapids, however, dismissed a petition from an employee who challenged Michigan State University’s broader vaccination mandate.

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He issued the temporary restraining order on the day of Western’s deadline for athletes to get a first shot or be unable to train or compete. He said that although the university did not have a chance to respond to the complaint filed on Monday, the warrant is under scrutiny because it obstructs the free exercise of religion.

“The WMU’s vaccination requirement for student-athletes is not justified by compelling interest and is not narrowly tailored,” Maloney wrote.

He has scheduled a hearing on a temporary injunction for September 9.

Unlike other Michigan universities, Western’s vaccine requirement does not extend to all students and employees, although the unvaccinated must undergo weekly coronavirus testing. All four athletes – Emily Dahl, Hannah Redoute, Bailey Korhorn and Morgan Otteson – said they were denied religious exemptions for playing without a dose.

“Our clients are grateful that the court has recognized that they have a strong case for a religious exemption from this vaccine requirement,” their lawyer, David Kallman, said in a statement. “Our customers are delighted to be able to continue to be a part of their football team, to be with their teammates and to compete for WMU at the highest level in complete safety.”

A spokeswoman for the Kalamazoo-based school said she was not commenting on the pending litigation.

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In a separate case, the judge said that a supervisory administrative associate and a Michigan state financial officer had failed to demonstrate that she had a good chance of success. He cited federal rulings in favor of Indiana University’s vaccine mandate and said that Jeanna Norris – who said the vaccine was not needed because she had COVID-19 the year last – is an at-will employee with no “constitutionally protected property interest in her position”.

It is unlikely to show that the requirement is not “rationally linked to a legitimate government interest, i.e. the health and safety of the public,” Maloney wrote.

Also on Tuesday, leaders of public health associations issued an open letter urging community leaders to support local health workers who have been threatened with having issued masking demands in county schools. A woman from Grand Blanc was charged last week with threatening to kill Genesee County officials.

“Despite their dedication and deep sense of duty to protect the public, medical and administrative health officials have been threatened physically and politically scapegoats,” wrote Drs. Ruta Sharangpani and William Nettleton, president and past president of the Michigan Association for Preventive Medicine and Public Health, and Norm Hess, executive director of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health.

They condemned the physical threats and intimidation.

“The pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Stress, anxiety, fear, misinformation and mistrust contribute to inappropriate behavior, ”they said. “We call on community leaders to stand up for your public health officials and help encourage productive community conversations.

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