In a surprising move, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett refused to take up a case involving a university mandating that all of its students receive a coronavirus vaccine in order to attend classes, CNN reports.
The most recently-confirmed Associate Justice denied a request to block the mandate, after a lawsuit had been filed against Indiana University (IU) for the new policy. The case made its way to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, with the judges there ultimately determining that the policy was justified since vaccine requirements “have been common in this nation,” noting that the policy allowed for religious or medical exemptions. All students who do not get the vaccine are forced to undergo weekly testing until they do receive the vaccine.
“These plaintiffs just need to wear a mask and be tested,” the Appeals Court’s opinion continued, determining these to be “requirements that are not constitutionally problematic.” The court advised that students who are against such a mandate simply “go elsewhere.”
The lawsuit was first filed by lawyer James Bopp on behalf of several students who refused to submit to the requirement.
“IU is coercing students to give up their rights to bodily integrity, autonomy, and of medical treatment choice in exchange for the discretionary benefit of matriculating at IU,” Bopp said in his emergency petition to the Supreme Court following the Appeals Court’s ruling. Bopp requested that the Supreme Court make a decision on the case by the end of the week, as the vaccine requirement encompasses the coming Fall Session that starts on August 23rd.
As Barrett has jurisdiction over the 7th Circuit, it was her decision as to whether or not any action should be taken. As such, her decision was made alone and without suggesting that the full court hear the case.
After Barrett’s decision, Indiana University spokesperson Chuck Carney falsely claimed that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of the mandate, and that the school “looks forward to beginning fall semester with our health and safety policies in place. Carney also claimed that roughly 85 percent of the university, including students and faculty, “are approaching full vaccination.” While Bopp and the students he represents felt “disappointed that Justice Barrett refused to intervene,” Bopp vowed to continue fighting the mandate in lower courts.