On Thursday, August 12th, the Supreme Court refused to block a mandate from Indiana University that students must be vaccinated to attend in-person classes. This was the first legal case to be heard by the Supreme Court regarding Covid-19 vaccine mandates. In a disappointing move for conservatives, Amy Coney Barret, a Trump appointee, rejected the petition. Barrett is the judge for the 7th circuit and acted alone in denying the motion.
Eight students from Indiana University requested the emergency order. They argued that the risks associated with the vaccine don’t outweigh the benefits for their age group. “Protection of others does not relieve our society from the central canon of medical ethics requiring voluntary and informed consent,” they told the justices.
They also argued that it violated their 14th amendment rights. Last month a federal court also ruled against them, stating, “ The school had a right to pursue “a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty, and staff.” The students have the option to apply for a religious or medical exemption, take the semester off, view online classes, or attend another university.
The 7th Circuit Court also heard the case of Appeals, and they too refused to block the vaccine mandate. The court referenced the 1905 case where the state required everyone to be vaccinated against smallpox.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 670 colleges and universities require students to be fully vaccinated. These include public schools like UCLA and the Cal State system and private universities like Harvard and Stanford. Currently, lawsuits are challenging the vaccine mandates in the California State University System and universities of Connecticut.
Colleges and universities aren’t the only places requiring vaccines. According to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, “Members of the U.S. military will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning next month under a plan laid out by the Pentagon Monday and endorsed by President Joe Biden.” He continued by saying, “To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force.”
As of now, there may be an exception for religious or medical reasons. If members refuse without an exemption,“ It could constitute failure to obey an order and may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”