SCOTUS upholds university coronavirus vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court just weighed in, for the first time, on one of the most important issues of our time: coronavirus vaccine mandates.

The Washington Examiner reports that the Supreme Court decided not to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate. 

Background

Like many schools, particularly colleges and universities, Indiana University has declared that all students, faculty, and staff have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The university does allow certain limited exemptions.

But, those who are not exempt and who fail to get vaccinated have been threatened with the cancellation of their class registration and with restrictions on participation in school activities, among other consequences.

In response, a group of students brought a lawsuit against the university. The eight students were asking the courts to put a stop to Indiana University’s vaccine mandate.

The students put forth a number of arguments including that their objections to the vaccines were “based on legitimate concerns including underlying medical conditions, having natural antibodies, and the risks associated with the vaccine.”

The students also argued that the university’s mandate contradicts the conditions of the vaccines’ emergency use authorization. And, finally, they argued that the mandate violates their constitutional right to bodily integrity under the 14th Amendment.

Legal history

At the lower level of the federal courts, the group of eight students lost two cases.

At the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, the students’ second stop, the court upheld the university coronavirus vaccine mandate on the grounds that the university would not be able to operate without it and that students who don’t want to get vaccinated “may go elsewhere.”

After these two legal defeats, the eight students filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. And, the court handed down its decision on Thursday.

The Supreme Court decided not to grant the students’ request to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate. The decision was handed down by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, an appointee of former President Donald Trump. Barrett did not explain why it is that the Supreme Court was turning down the students’ request.

So, for the time being, at least, it appears that colleges and universities have been given the okay to follow through with coronavirus vaccine mandates.

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