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Federal judge rules in favor of IU's COVID-19 vaccine requirement

IU Campus
Posted at 10:10 AM, Jul 19, 2021

BLOOMINGTON — Indiana University's COVID-19 vaccine requirement remains in place after a federal judge upheld the school's mandate early Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge Damon R. Leichty issued a 101-page ruling denying a request for an injunction against the policy after eight IU students argued the vaccine mandate violates the Fourteenth Amendment, which includes the rights of personal autonomy and the right to reject medical treatment, 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 Aug. 15 or when they return to campus after Aug. 1, whichever is earlier.

Vaccine exemptions will be given for those with doctor-authorized medical conditions and for those with documented religious objections.

"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," a statement from IU said. "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 vaccine mandate affects all IU campuses.

IU officials have said the university has the right to not admit students and fire employees who refuse to get vaccinated. However, the school made slight changes to the mandate after it was criticized by Republican state lawmakers.

The university dropped a requirement to have students and staff submit copies of their COVID-19 vaccine card. Instead, they will simply have to sign an online statement stating they are vaccianted.

James Bopp Jr., the attorney for the students challenging the mandate, said in a statement on Monday that the students plan to appeal the ruling.

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

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