A federal judge last July 19 refused to block Indiana University’s (IU) COVID-19 vaccination requirement after students filed a complaint that it breached their constitutional rights.
U.S. District Judge Damon Leichty said in the ruling that the IU policy does not amount to direct forced vaccinations because the university provided a number of exemptions, including medical deferrals, and other options such as taking a semester off or attending another school.
Leichty added that the eight students who had sued IU were unlikely to prove in court that the policy violated their rights.
IU announced the policy last May, requiring all its students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated by Aug. 15 to allow for the return of “normal operations” in its campuses. Those who refuse to get vaccinated will face “strong sequences,” such as cancellation of class registration and not being allowed to participate in any campus activity for students.
The IU policy currently extends through the fall semester only.
The students alleged in their complaint that the IU policy violated their “rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity, and the right to reject medical treatment.”
The students also cited low risk of getting infected and the unclear long-term impact of the vaccine as reasons for opposing the policy.
The lawyer representing the students, Attorney James Bopp Jr., announced that they filed for an appeal on July 20.
“Preventing enforcement of this mandate and continuing to fight is the only way to protect these students and guarantee that their fundamental constitutional rights are not violated,” Bopp said in a statement.