News that Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett had singlehandedly refused to grant an injunction against Indiana University’s vaccine mandate broke last week, but Liberty Counsel says that the injunction wasn’t necessary as its clients have already been granted religious exemptions.
Justice Barrett, who has jurisdiction over the appeals court in the case, denied a request by students for an injunction against the school’s vaccine mandate. Barrett did not consult the rest of the Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit had also previously voted to decline the requests of eight students for an injunction. The students claim, “a constitutional right to bodily integrity, autonomy, and of medical treatment choice in the context of a vaccination mandate.” Seven of the students qualify for a religious exemption.
Liberty Counsel responded to the news by clarifying that its clients had not asked for the injunction because they already received religious exemptions. The legal group said that the case was “unnecessary” because the clients of attorney Jim Bopp had already received religious exemptions as well.
They note that it is against Indiana law for the school to not offer religious exemptions and that the court has stated that there are many options for students to receive exemptions. Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said,
“Indiana University students who requested religious accommodations received them. Forcing any person to receive one of these COVID injections is a violation of both state and federal law. In addition to federal law protections, Indiana has strong conscience protections. No school, employer, or government may force or coerce anyone to take these injections. Federal law requires full informed consent.”
While it is encouraging news that all but one of these students received a religious exemption, any student who objects to the shot should be able to receive an exemption. The vaccines are still in the experimental phase and their long-term effects are unknown. Reports of severe side effects have emerged as well, leading to concerns about the vaccines’ safety. Not only this, but the vaccines have proven not nearly as effective as touted at preventing people from contracting Covid.
Indiana University has a right to require students to receive vaccinations unless they have a legitimate reason for opposing vaccinations. If the school is going to instill a vaccine mandate, it should at least make accommodations for those who decline the vaccine, such as allowing an all-online format.
Coercing, bribing, or threatening students into taking a vaccine that is still under emergency-use authorization and not yet approved is not going to instill any confidence in the vaccine — or in the university. School officials should work with students, not against them.