Judge Denies Halt to Michigan State University’s Vaccine Mandate

By The Center Square
The Center Square
The Center Square
The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. www.thecentersquare.com
September 2, 2021 Updated: September 2, 2021

A federal judge denied a temporary restraining order sought by a Michigan State University (MSU) employee who sued over the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, claiming she has natural immunity.

Jeanna Norris is a supervisory administrative associate and fiscal officer at MSU. The university has threatened disciplinary action, including termination, if employees do not comply with the school’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for the Fall 2021 semester, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

MSU’s “COVID Directives” mandate faculty, staff, and students are completely vaccinated by Aug. 31 or received at least one dose of a two-dose series unless they obtain a religious or medical exemption or test weekly until fully vaccinated.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney cited Jacobson v. Massachusetts in 1905 in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a state law requiring residents to be vaccinated against smallpox based on the state’s police powers.

Maloney pointed out that Norris is an at-will employee and can quit and work elsewhere if she doesn’t want to be vaccinated.

“Therefore, due to Plaintiff’s at-will employment status, she does not have a constitutionally protected property interest in her employment position and this claim is without merit,” Maloney wrote.

Maloney dismissed the argument that Norris would be forced to be injected with a vaccine with Emergency Use Authorization because, on Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine, making the argument moot.

Maloney also said Norris failed to show what irreparable harm would befall her if he doesn’t grant a temporary restraining order because “lost wages and benefits can be calculated to an exact amount.”

Maloney set a hearing on the preliminary injunction for Sept. 22, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. at the Federal Building, 410 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

The same day, Maloney granted a temporary restraining order for four Western Michigan University soccer students who sued, saying the mandate violated their religious beliefs.

By Scott McClallen

The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. www.thecentersquare.com