Univ. of CO Constituents Expand Lawsuit for School’s Religious Discrimination

On November 2, 2021, sixteen additional faculty and students joined the Thomas More Society’s previously filed lawsuit against the University of Colorado and asked for injunctive relief against the school over its COVID vaccination mandate. This brings the total to eighteen plaintiffs who are now seeking relief in federal court for violations of their constitutionally guaranteed right to religious liberty. The group has also submitted an amended complaint, in order to add additional facts and to address new concerns raised by a recent court ruling. The federal judge overseeing the case ruled on a matter relative to the university’s adoption of a new vaccine mandate policy, while denying religious exemptions under an older policy.

Thirteen of the plaintiffs are faculty members, including physicians, educators, and program administrators, who, together with five students, are now suing the University of Colorado Board of Regents, the President of the university, the Chancellor of the university’s Anschutz School of Medicine, and others in the administration for discriminating against the religious beliefs of its faculty and students. The amended complaint adds the sixteen new plaintiffs to the original lawsuit filed on behalf of a Catholic doctor and a Buddhist student who are unwilling to take the school’s mandated vaccine because of sincerely and deeply held religious objections.

“This is a simple issue,” explained Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen. “The university has clearly violated the rights of its employees and students by agreeing to accommodations for those with health-based objections to the COVID vaccine but refusing to accommodate those with religious objections. The university and its administrators have shown a persistent attitude of religious bigotry in their policies, in their emails denigrating and denying the sincerity of our clients’ varied beliefs, and in their filings in this lawsuit.”

Breen continued, “No government has the right to define a person’s ‘deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs’ for them, nor does it have the authority to deem them valid or invalid.” Breen added that, “The university’s foray into theology has gone even further, with its administrators probing and debating the religious beliefs of its staff and students, rendering value judgments on believers in an inquisition that violates the First Amendment and basic decency.”

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is the academic health sciences campus in Aurora, Colorado, which houses the University of Colorado’s six health sciences-related schools and colleges. Effective September 1, 2021, the university enacted and enforced a policy that all students, employees, and other individuals “who currently or may in the future access any CU Anschutz facility or participate in any CU Anschutz program” or otherwise interact with members of the Anschutz community “regardless of location” must “become fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with a vaccine that has been approved by the World Health Organization.”

The federal lawsuit against the university was first filed in its original form on September 29, 2021, after which the school took a step back and agreed to hold the job of Dr. Jane Doe and the enrollment of student John Doe until Colorado’s federal court issued a decision on the Thomas More Society-filed Motion for Preliminary Injunction. At this time, the university has agreed to a standstill on further action against the new plaintiffs, until a ruling is made on their Renewed Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

Read the Verified Amended & Supplemental Complaint for Temporary and Permanent Injunction and Damages filed on October 29, 2021, with the United States District Court for the District of Colorado in Jane Does 1 through 11, and John Does 1 through 7 v. Board of Regents of The University of Colorado, et al. here.

Read the Renewed Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed on November 2, 2021, with the United States District Court for the District of Colorado in Jane Does 1 through 11, and John Does 1 through 7 v. Board of Regents of The University of Colorado, et al. here.

Read more about the Thomas More Society attorneys’ actions on behalf of University of Colorado faculty, staff, and students with religious objections to the school’s mandatory Covid-19 vaccine here.

SOURCE Thomas More Society