Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate upheld by judge

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Indiana University's COVID-19 vaccine mandate upheld by judge

Indiana University students must comply with the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the fall semester after a federal judge refused on Monday to block the school’s inoculation requirement, one of the first rulings of its kind during the pandemic.

U.S. District Court Judge Damon Leichty in South Bend, Indiana, rejected the argument by eight students that the school violated their bodily autonomy and constitutional right to due process.

“This university policy isn’t forced vaccination,” wrote the judge. “The students have options — taking the vaccine, applying for a religious exemption, applying for a medical exemption, applying for a medical deferral, taking a semester off, or attending another university.”

The students sued last month and asked Leichty to block the school’s requirement that students, faculty and staff be vaccinated or receive an exemption. Exempted students must follow separate COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

“Today’s ruling does not end the students’ fight — we plan to immediately appeal the judge’s decision,” states James Bopp, a conservative activist attorney who represented the students.

Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers gathered at Indiana University's Sample Gates to protest against mandatory Covid vaccinations IU is requiring for students, staff and faculty during the upcoming fall semester.
Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers gathered at Indiana University’s Sample Gates to protest against mandatory Covid vaccinations IU is requiring for students, staff and faculty during the upcoming fall semester.
Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/Shutter

COVID-19 vaccines have become a U.S. political flashpoint and the country has fallen short of President Joe Biden’s vaccine goals, raising concerns that life may not return to normal as the number of infections are beginning to rise.

Leichty, appointed by former President Donald Trump, said had the students shown a likelihood that the university was infringing unreasonably on constitutional rights, blocking the policy would have been in the public interest. But he said the students “have a low likelihood of success” of proving that.

More than 500 colleges and universities have mandated the COVID-19 vaccine and Leichty’s ruling appears to be the first in a case challenging such a policy.

Protesters holding placards gather at Indiana University's Sample Gates during the demonstration.
Protesters holding placards gather at Indiana University’s Sample Gates during the demonstration.
Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/Shutter

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