The Supreme Court Isn’t Going to Stop Indiana University From Having a Vaccine Mandate

Despite the efforts of eight students (and a prominent conservative lawyer, naturally), the school's COVID safety measure will continue.

The Supreme Court Isn’t Going to Stop Indiana University From Having a Vaccine Mandate
Photo:Saul Loeb (Getty Images)

The Supreme Court turned down a request from a group of students (represented by a super prominent conservative lawyer, naturally) intent on blocking their school’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

For this coming school year, Indiana University requires that all “students, faculty, and staff” be “fully vaccinated or have an approved [religious, ethical, or medical] exemption before returning to campus.” Eight students objected to this mandate, so they sued the school to protect their purported right to get and give COVID to others, The New York Times reports.

The students, represented by attorney James Bopp Jr. (a very serious man with a truly ridiculous name whom the Times describes as a “prominent conservative lawyer” known for his involvement in Citizens United v. FEC), have been entirely unsuccessful in their attempts to get out of this mandate thus far. First, a trial judge ruled against them, and then an appeals court unanimously decided not to issue an injunction on the grounds that universities literally do this shit all the time with measles and mumps and rubella.

Their emergency appeal to the Supreme Court fared no better. Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined their request without comment, the Times reports, without even looping in the full court.

Who knows what’s next for the students, who claim that Indiana University’s vaccination mandate violates their constitutional rights to “bodily integrity, autonomy, and medical choice.” Perhaps they’ll have some kind of wonderful collective revelation and refocus that energy towards fighting real issues of “bodily integrity, autonomy, and medical choice” like ensuring people’s access to abortions and hormones. Speaking of which, I’ll have one of each!

Anyway, elsewhere in the country American colleges and universities are trying out a number of tactics to get their students vaccinated. West Virginia Wesleyan, for example, has imposed a $750 fine on anyone who hasn’t received at least their first shot by Sept. 7, NPR reports. Birmingham Southern College in Alabama and Tennessee’s Rhodes College are doing something similar, fining unvaccinated students $500 and $1,500, respectively, to offset money spent on weekly COVID testing.

Speaking of testing, MIT in Cambridge is going to require that everyone who comes to campus at least once a week is tested on a weekly basis, according to Newsweek, along with wearing masks and getting vaccinated. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed an executive order blocking any public or private entity that gets money from the state from issuing mask or vaccine mandates.

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