Sixteen student athletes at Western Michigan University who were denied a religious exemption from a vaccine mandate will likely succeed in their lawsuit, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the university violated the students’ right to the free exercise of religion when it failed to fairly explain why it denied the exemptions. The Associated Press has coverage and the Volokh Conspiracy has highlights from the Oct. 7 per curiam opinion.

The appeals court declined to lift an injunction that required Western Michigan University to allow the students to play intercollegiate sports. The trial-level judge’s order said the athletes can still be required to wear masks at practice and to undergo regular tests.

The appeals court said the university doesn’t impose the same vaccine requirement on students who are not athletes. Students who don’t get vaccinated have to be tested regularly for COVID-19.”

This article was originally posted in the ABA Journal.

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