A group of eight Indiana University students have asked the Supreme Court to block the Big Ten school’s mandate that students, faculty and staff be fully vaccinated beginning in the fall semester.
The challenge follows two lower court rulings upholding the university’s requirement. The students submitted their request for an injunction to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a former judge on the same appeals court where a three-judge panel voted unanimously to deny their petition Monday.
The students argue that they have “a constitutional right to bodily integrity, autonomy, and of medical treatment choice in the context of a vaccination mandate.”
The initial vaccine mandate, announced in May, contains exemptions for religious or medical reasons, as well as for online-only students. Exempt students must be tested twice a week for COVID-19. The university initially was going to require students and employees to provide immunization documentation but reversed course after backlash. Students and employees now must simply attest to their vaccination in an online form.
The school also announced Wednesday that all students must wear a mask indoors while on campus regardless of vaccination status.
The requirements apply to roughly 90,000 students and 40,000 employees on seven campuses across the Hoosier State. Students who don’t comply will have their registration canceled and workers who don’t will lose their jobs.
The students challenging the mandate note that six of them have already received a religious exemption. Their filing cites the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study in arguing that the university’s rule is “contrary to modern medical ethics,” which they claim “require voluntary and informed consent for any procedure, or drug that imposes a medical risk to an individual.”
In recent months, the court has sided with challenges to some pandemic-induced restrictions, most notably on indoor religious services. However, this is the first time the high court has been asked to consider the question of vaccine mandates.
The students have asked the Supreme Court to respond to their petition by Aug. 13.
On Friday, United Airlines announced it would become the first major US airline to require workers to be vaccinated. Google, Facebook, Tyson Foods and Microsoft are among the other companies mandating vaccines.
Late last month, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require vaccinations for its health workers. President Joe Biden announced last week that federal workers will be required to sign forms attesting they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or comply with new rules on mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing and more.
With Post Wires