Emergency Room Physician Steven Roumpf MD receives the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at Indiana University Health, Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind., December 16, 2020. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters) The judge ruled that the students’ right to refuse vaccination is not fundamental.
A federal court has effectively green-lighted the University of Indiana’s mandate that students be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend classes in person and participate in campus life.
Judge Damon R. Leichty, a Trump appointee to the district court (in the Northern District of Indiana), denied an injunction sought by several students who object to the vaccine mandate.
In a thorough 101-page ruling dated Sunday, Judge Leichty acknowledged that the university — a public institution that receives hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding and whose board of trustees is established by state law — is a public institution. Ergo, it is legally deemed an arm of the state, whose actions must conform to constitutional limits, including those imposed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
The core questions in the case are thus whether there is a federal right to bodily integrity and medical privacy that includes refusing to submit to vaccination, and if so, what level