Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied the application
without seeking response from the university or the state and without referring
it for a vote to the full Court.
The plaintiffs argued that because Indiana University’s
vaccination mandate encroaches on constitutional rights to bodily autonomy and
integrity, it should be subjected to heightened judicial scrutiny and Indiana
University should have to prove that its mandate is justified.
According to the application, the students are adults and
therefore “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.”
However, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh
Circuit already rejected this argument earlier this month,
pointing to the relatively limited scope of the mandate and the numerous
exemptions it offers. The Seventh Circuit particularly noted that “six of the
eight plaintiffs have claimed a religious exception, and a seventh is eligible
for it” adding that those who do not want to get vaccinated have the freedom of
choice in attending the ample number of other universities that do not
require vaccination against SARS-CoV-2.
Indiana University’s vaccination
policy requires that all students, faculty, and staff be fully
vaccinated or have an approved religious, medical, or ethical exemption before
returning to campus.
The lack of referral to the full court and not seeking a
response from the university on the emergency injunction application is seen by legal commentators as a sign that the Court
does not consider this a “particularly close case.”
This is the third consecutive defeat for the students in
less than a month. Attorney for the students, James Bopp, noted the students’ disappointment with the Supreme
Court’s refusal to intervene and stated that the students intend to continue to
fight in the lower courts.
Insofar as the injunction is concerned, this may not be
possible because the lower courts have already ruled on the matter. Thus, the
students will have to argue the case on merits and potentially go to trial
while the vaccine mandate remains in place.
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