SCOTUS rejects Indiana College’s vaccine problem
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate at Indiana University to clear the way for school officials to vaccinate students and faculty members.
Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett turned down a request from Indiana University students for emergency aid. The case is the first challenge for a vaccination mandate during the coronavirus pandemic.
The appeal was brought to the country’s highest court as a growing number of employers, restaurants and schools are demanding vaccinations in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. Slightly less than 40% of the country’s adult population is not fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The students filed the rush motion last week, asking judges to block enforcement of the university’s requirements, which they believe violate their constitutional right to physical integrity under the 14th Amendment.
The Chicago-based U.S. 7th District Court of Appeals upheld the request in a ruling earlier this month, citing a 1905 Supreme Court precedent that allowed Massachusetts to sentence those who refused to vaccinate against smallpox.
“People who do not want to be vaccinated can go elsewhere,” said Frank Easterbrook, judge on Jan.
Easterbrook added that the university would struggle if students feared that those around them could spread disease.
“With a third verdict now from the state’s highest court confirming Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccination schedule, we look forward to kicking off our fall semester with our current health and safety guidelines and others,” said Indiana University in a statement.
The school said 85% of its students, faculty and staff are nearing a full vaccination.
James Bopp, who represents the students, said they were “disappointed” that Barrett had refused to intervene and protect the students’ rights.
“IU students are adults who are entitled to make decisions about medical treatment themselves, unless IU can prove in court that their COVID vaccination order is justified, which they have not done and that the courts do not oblige them to do so have, ”said Bopp.
Bopp also suggested that the students would continue their legal challenges against the university’s vaccine policy, saying their “battle is not over”.
Indiana Public University announced in May that students and faculty will need to take the vaccine this fall to attend classes in person, with the exception of religious objections, medical conditions – like allergies – and those doing their coursework online.
Featuring: Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star