IU vaccination mandate confirmed | Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana University may require its roughly 90,000 students and 40,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under federal judge ruling that may be the first of its kind on warrants of college vaccination.
In a ruling dated Sunday, U.S. District Judge Damon Leichty in South Bend rejected a claim by eight IU students who sought to block the requirement as they filed a lawsuit claiming the policy of the The university violated their constitutional rights by forcing them to receive unwanted medical treatment.
James Bopp, a Conservative lawyer representing students, said Monday he plans to appeal the ruling, which he says is the first by a federal judge to challenge such warrants, which have been imposed by hundreds American public and private colleges.
Leichty wrote that the students have not presented evidence to show that they could prevail in the case, and that the Constitution “allows Indiana University to pursue a reasonable and due process of immunization in the legitimate public health interest for its students, teachers and staff. “
Leichty, who held a hearing on the case last week, said plaintiffs could seek medical or religious exemptions offered by the university, or they could take the fall semester or attend another school.
University officials have defended the vaccination policy as being “designed for the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”
“We appreciate the quick and thorough decision that allows us to focus on a full and safe return,” the university said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to our campuses for the fall semester. “
Bopp said he would ask an appeals court to prevent the university’s policy from coming into effect.
“The right of a student admitted to the IU to attend the IU cannot be conditioned on the student renouncing his rights to bodily integrity, bodily autonomy and consent to medical treatment like the UI has done here, ”he said.
Similar lawsuits have been filed in federal courts in Connecticut and California, Bopp said. College officials across the country have questioned whether they have the power to require students to be vaccinated, which some see as key to returning campus to in-person classes and other normal activities.
Indiana law currently requires students at residential colleges and state universities to be vaccinated against six diseases – diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis. Kindergarten to grade 12 public school students need to be vaccinated against five other diseases.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, aged 18 to 39, argue their age group is at low risk of severe cases of COVID-19 and that they face possible dangers from the vaccine given under the authorization federal emergency use.
Leichty, who became a federal judge in 2019 after his appointment by then-President Donald Trump, criticized a doctor who testified against UI policy for using “soft and inconsequential language” and cited the extensive review by federal health agencies to confirm the safety of the three available COVID-19 vaccines.
“Progress has been made with the vaccine, not in spite of it,” Leichty wrote. “As long as the medical and scientific debate persists (…) the court remains resolved that Indiana University has acted reasonably here in the pursuit of public health and safety for its campus communities . “
The lawsuit was filed after IU officials announced in May that the school would require all students and employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines for the fall semester. Students who do not comply will have their registration canceled and workers who do not will lose their jobs.
IU would initially require students and staff to provide vaccination documents. It sparked a conservative backlash, with nearly all of the Republican members of the Indiana Senate signing a letter calling the policy a “tough mandate goes against many of the freedoms on which our founders built our democratic republic.”
A non-binding opinion from Republican State Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office called the policy illegal under a new state law prohibiting state or local governments from requiring passports vaccine.