Supreme Court refuses to block Indiana University's COVID-19 vaccine requirement

Justice Amy Coney Barrett issued the unilateral decision.

Updated: August 12, 2021 - 7:46pm

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The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a challenge brought by Indiana University students over the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for attending school this fall.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett issued the unilateral ruling on Thursday, as she oversees emergency requests from Indiana, The Hill reported.

Eight students from the university submitted an emergency application for writ of injunction last Friday to Barrett, requesting she make a decision by Aug. 13, which is 10 days before school starts.

Barrett chose to not refer the appeal to the other justices and did not provide an explanation for her ruling, which was the first vaccine mandate issue to reach the Supreme Court.

Indiana University’s vaccine mandate applies to both students and employees. Following angry reactions to its initially strict policy, which included firing employees and canceling classes for students who did not receive the vaccine by the start of the fall semester, the university allowed for medical, religious, and ethical exemptions.

"Students' refusal is based on legitimate concerns including underlying medical conditions, having natural antibodies, and the risks associated with the vaccine," the students' application to Barrett read.

"All students are adults, are entitled to make their own medical treatment decisions, and have a constitutional right to bodily integrity, autonomy, and of medical treatment choice in the context of a vaccination mandate," the brief continued. "IU, however, is treating its students as children who cannot be trusted to make mature decisions and has substituted itself for both the student and her attending physician, mandating a choice which is the student's to make, based on her physician's advice."

The appeal to Barrett followed a ruling by a three-judge panel with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals against the students.

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