Federal Court Names Colorado University’s COVID Vaccine Mandate Unconstitutional

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit said this month that the University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate was “unconstitutional.”

The ruling highlighted that the mandate was tainted by “religious animus” and violated the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberties.

In September 2021, the University of Colorado mandated COVID vaccination for all individuals accessing its facilities or participating in its programs, with strictly limited exemptions.

“Thomas More Society attorneys filed their lawsuit in September 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against the University of Colorado, the chancellor of the Anschutz School of Medicine and the school’s senior associate dean of medical education. The original lawsuit was filed for a Catholic doctor and a Buddhist student, who were unable to take the vaccine due to their sincerely and deeply held religious convictions, and in October 2021, over a dozen additional staff and students were added to the lawsuit. They are seeking injunctive relief, damages, and attorney’s fees against the University for its unlawful discrimination and violations of fundamental constitutional rights,” Thomas More Society said.

“The University of Colorado ran roughshod overstaff and students of faith during COVID, and the Court of Appeals has now declared plainly what we’ve fought to establish for almost three years: the University acted with ‘religious animus’ and flagrantly violated the fundamental religious liberties of these brave healthcare providers and students. These medical providers were hailed as heroes, as they served bravely on the front lines through the worst of the pandemic, but when their religious principles conflicted with the beliefs of University of Colorado bureaucrats, these heroes were callously tossed aside,” Peter Breen, Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation at the Thomas More Society, said.

“With this ruling in favor of our clients, the Court of Appeals has made clear that people of faith are not second-class citizens—they are deserving of full respect and the protection of the United States Constitution in their free exercise of religion. By unlawfully and intrusively probing our staff and students’ religious beliefs, the University rendered value judgments that not only reeked of religious bigotry but violated our clients’ constitutional rights, as well as basic decency. We are grateful for this strong court decision in favor of religious liberty,” Breen continued.