Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday declined to block Indiana University’s (IU) COVID-19 vaccine requirement which takes full effect this fall, offering no explanation for her decision.
Barrett, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, made the decision alone in response to an emergency request from eight IU students who sued the school in June. The students argued that the inoculation requirement would violate their constitutional rights by forcing them to receive unwanted medical treatment.
The eight students filed a motion for emergency relief following a lower court’s decision last week that sided with the university’s decision to require all students returning to campus on Aug. 23 to get vaccinated or else have a religious exemption or a medical condition.
The university on May 21 informed all students that failure to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the fall semester will result in students’ class registrations being canceled and their university-issued IDs terminated, and they will be prohibited from any on-campus activity.
Those who are exempted from the vaccine are required to get tested for COVID-19 twice a week and wear masks, IU said.
The students in court filings argued that they have “a constitutional right to bodily integrity, autonomy, and of medical treatment choice in the context of a vaccination mandate.”
Indiana University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than 80 percent of IU students have reported receiving at least one dose of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccine, IU spokesman Chuck Carney told The Associated Press last week.
The decision comes as a growing number of schools and employers are mandating vaccinations, responding to a surge in cases of the more contagious Delta variant of the CCP virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an Aug. 6 update that new data on the Delta variant shows that no vaccine is 100 percent effective as fully vaccinated people are still capable of spreading the virus to others, although vaccinated people “appear to be infectious for a shorter period.”
The agency added that breakthrough infections of the Delta variant “seems to produce the same high amount of virus in both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people,” bringing into question whether vaccine mandates are justifiable given the implications for government infringement on individual liberties.
The CDC didn’t respond to a request for comment on the matter.
James Bopp, a lawyer for the students, told several news outlets that they are “disappointed that Justice Barrett refused to intervene.” He added that the students will continue to challenge the vaccine requirement at lower courts.
“IU students are adults entitled to make medical treatment decisions for themselves, unless IU can prove in court that their COVID vaccine mandate is justified, which they have not done and that the courts have not required them to do,” the attorney said.