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Judge gives IU the go-ahead to require COVID-19 vaccines

Contributed By:The 411 News

Rights of 8 students don't outweigh the state's goal for public health

U.S. District Court Judge Damon Leichty in South Bend, Indiana, rejected the argument by eight Indiana University students that the school violated their bodily autonomy and constitutional right to due process by requiring them to have taken the COVID-19 vaccine.

In May of this year, IU announced a requirement for all students, faculty, and staff to receive COVID vaccinations before they can return to IU's campuses for the fall semester. Those with medical and religious reasons could apply for an exemption.

The students, represented by the Bopp Law Firm, asked for a preliminary injunction and if it had been granted, would have halted the university's vaccination mandate until their case is concluded.

The students have the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, Judge Leichty wrote, but "the university must act reasonably in achieving a legitimate state goal of public health." The rights of 8 students are not enough to grant a preliminary injunction, the judge said.

Judge Leichty said his opinion isn't in favor of vaccinations and the university's mandate is only for the first semester. "This university policy isn’t forced vaccination," wrote the judge. "The students have options -- taking the vaccine, applying for a religious exemption, applying for a medical exemption, applying for a medical deferral, taking a semester off, or attending another university."

Those with medical and religious exemptions have to submit to periodic testing, wear a mask, and practice social distancing.

“Today’s ruling does not end the students’ fight—we plan to immediately appeal the judge’s decision,” stated James Bopp, Jr. “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.”

Story Posted:07/20/2021

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