BLOOMINGTON – The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana ruled Monday it will not block Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
U.S. District Court Judge Damon R. Leichty denied a request for an injunction against the policy after eight IU students argued the vaccine mandate violates their 14th Amendment rights and Indiana’s new law forbidding “vaccine passports.”
“The Fourteenth Amendment permits Indiana University to pursue a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty, and staff,” Leichty wrote in his opinion.
In May, IU announced that all students, faculty, and staff must be fully vaccinated by August 15 or when they return to campus after August 1, whichever is earlier.
Vaccine exemptions will be given for those with doctor-authorized medical conditions and for those with documented religious objections.
Indiana University issued this statement following the ruling:
A ruling from the federal court has affirmed Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccination plan designed for the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. We appreciate the quick and thorough ruling which allows us to focus on a full and safe return. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our campuses for the fall semester.
The students and their attorney plan to appeal the ruling.
“Today’s ruling does not end the students’ fight – we plan to immediately appeal the judge’s decision,” states James Bopp, Jr., Director of Litigation for America’s Frontline Doctors, and lead counsel in the lawsuit. “In addition, we plan on asking the judge to put a hold on IU’s Mandate pending that appeal. We are confident the court of appeals will agree that the Mandate should be put on hold.”
“Continuing our fight against this unconstitutional mandate is necessary to guarantee that IU students receive the fair due process they’re owed by a public university,” said Bopp. “An admitted IU student’s right to attend IU cannot be conditioned on the student waiving their rights to bodily integrity, bodily autonomy, and consent to medical treatment like IU has done here. IU’s Mandate did not properly balance the risks (both known and unknown) of the COVID vaccine to college-age students against the risks of COVID itself to that population and that college-aged students have a very low risk of adverse effects from a COVID infection. Furthermore, IU did not adequately consider the waning stage of the COVID pandemic before issuing its Mandate.”
Dr. Simone Gold, founder of America’s Frontline Doctors, said: “We are troubled to see the Court show any hesitation in their resolve to recognize and protect each person’s sovereignty over their own body. Voluntary consent to receiving medications is black letter law since World War II. America’s Frontline Doctors will relentlessly pursue equal justice for all students and all people according to the rule of law.”
Dr. Gold continued, “In a time when information is spread faster and farther than any previous point in history, it is critical that those in positions of authority are thorough and factual in their consideration of the data relevant to the policies they seek to implement. No fact could be more relevant to the issue of student vaccine mandates than the statistically near zero risks to the students themselves. Any mandate or coercion to take a new drug that lacks long-term safety data is unreasonable and unethical.”