The Supreme Court denied Thursday the petition of eight Indiana University students asking to block the school’s requirement that students receive the COVID vaccine as a condition of fall enrollment.
Newly confirmed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett was charged with reviewing the legal challenge to the college’s rule and refused to block it. No other justices on the bench offered a dissenting opinion.
The case originated when a group of Indiana students asked the court for an emergency order striking down the mandate, claiming that the potential harm of inoculation exceeded the merits of protection against the disease for their age demographic.
“Protection of others does not relieve our society from the central canon of medical ethics requiring voluntary and informed consent,” their plea read.
The high court’s decision comes after a federal judge upheld the university’s requirement last month and declined to grant a preliminary injunction against the policy. Judge Damon R. Leichty of the U.S. District Court for Northern Indiana argued that as a private institution the school is allowed to have “a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty, and staff.”
Students have recourse if they have religious or medical objections to the rule and can seek an exemption, attend virtual classes, transfer schools, or take the semester off, the judge said.
“The court isn’t saying a student doesn’t have the right to choose,” Leichty wrote. “Of course every individual does — subject to the state’s reasonable measures designed to pursue legitimate ends of disease control or eradication.”
Other students from other colleges in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California have reportedly submitted similar challenges to their schools requiring verification of vaccination to study on campus.
Heeding the Biden administration’s urging and the CDC’s recommendations, many private businesses, organizations, and industry leaders have moved towards imposing vaccinate mandates on their employees and, in some cases, customers. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby met with President Biden Wednesday to discuss his company’s strategy for expanding vaccination efforts, referring to vaccine mandates as a “basic safety issue.”
Other localities, such as Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York City and now Los Angeles, are resorting to government intervention, ordering establishments to ask for proof of vaccination at the door.
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