Supreme Court

Amy Coney Barrett Declines To Block Indiana University COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

The university's vaccine requirement will remain in force.

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Indiana University is one of a number of American institutions of higher education that now require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Last night, Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected a request from eight Indiana undergraduates who want the federal courts to block that requirement. As SCOTUSblog reporter Amy Howe notes, "Barrett, who is responsible for emergency appeals from Indiana, denied the students' request without comment, without seeking a response from the state, and without referring the request to the full court for a vote—suggesting that she and the other justices did not regard it as a particularly close case."

This outcome should not come as a great surprise. Not only have the students repeatedly lost in the lower courts, but they have lost at the hands of a respected Republican-appointed judge whose words have been known to carry weight at SCOTUS.

The case is Klaassen v. Trustees of Indiana University. Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, declined to block the university's vaccine mandate. Earlier this month, Judge Frank Easterbrook of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit did the same. Easterbrook, who was appointed to that court in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan, then dismissed the students' arguments in no uncertain terms. It was Easterbrook's judgment that the students wanted the Supreme Court to wipe away.

Easterbrook began by pointing to Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 1905 Supreme Court decision "which holds that a state may require all members of the public to be vaccinated against smallpox." That decision "sustained a criminal conviction for refusing to be vaccinated, show[ing] that plaintiffs lack such a right."

The Massachusetts law at issue in Jacobson allowed local governments to require smallpox vaccinations when the local health authorities deemed them necessary. Cambridge resident Henning Jacobson balked at his city's vaccination requirement and was fined $5. He contested that $5 penalty and took his case all the way up to the Supreme Court, where he lost 7–2.

Easterbrook argued that Indiana University's COVID-19 vaccination requirement easily passed the Jacobson test. "Jacobson sustained a vaccination requirement that lacked exceptions for adults," Easterbrook wrote. By contrast, "Indiana University has exceptions for persons who declare vaccination incompatible with their religious beliefs and persons for whom vaccination is medically contraindicated. The problems that may arise when a state refuses to make accommodations therefore are not present in this case."

Easterbrook further argued that while Jacobson affirmed a state law, this mandate only required vaccination as "a condition of attending Indiana University," making it less coercive. Easterbrook continued: "People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere. Many universities require vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, but many others do not. Plaintiffs have ample educational opportunities."

Barrett did not offer any explanation for why she rejected the students' request that the mandate be blocked by the Supreme Court. But it is probably safe to assume that Barrett basically agrees with Easterbrook.

NEXT: 3 Unvaccinated Florida Teachers Died, the Media Rushed To Blame Ron DeSantis' Mask Ban

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  1. “Indiana University has exceptions for persons who declare vaccination incompatible with their religious beliefs”

    “Of course, those exceptions do not apply to people holding religious beliefs that are not exception-worthy.”

    1. In the USA, our judges are equipped with Magical Powers that allow them to determine whether or not your religious beliefs are “sincerely held”.

      Apparently, at times, our Benevolent Judges stoop so low as to delegate their Magical Powers to school administrators, and such other, Lordly Creatures! Less Lordly than judges, but STILL somewhat Lordly!

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        1. Sorry, Lora. Visiting is incompatible with my religious beliefs.

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  3. But it is probably safe to assume that Barrett basically agrees with Easterbrook.

    You misspelled “Facebook”.

  4. I’ll never forgive her for violating the DYING WISH PRINCIPLE.

    This well-established principle of American government — which ACB would have learned if she attended a decent law school — states that an 80+ year old Supreme Court justice can request which political party nominates her replacement.

    #LibertariansForRBG

    1. RBG got her dying wish when they nominated Barrett.

  5. >>require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19

    In Scientia veritas.

    1. Is this different from swine flu vaccination mamdates during that pandemic?

      1. were there mandates? the supply/demand of the vaccines seems to be inverse. in 2009 they didn’t have enough and in 2021 they can’t move it

        1. There was a mandate for healthcare workers in PA in 2009, which many refused. And much like today, CDC was not particularly forthcoming with data.

          I was in NJ at the time. As my doc said – “I haven’t taken it and I haven’t given it to my kids, but I’ll give it to you if you want”. Message received. I passed on that vaccination, and still survived, somehow.

  6. Easterbrook began by pointing to Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 1905 Supreme Court decision “which holds that a state may require all members of the public to be vaccinated against smallpox.”

    Was the decision specific to smallpox? Because there’s a small difference between diseases with a 30% mortality rate and one with a 0.0000002% rate.

    1. Was Wickard specific to wartime? Or the Great Depression?

      Give these fuckers an inch, and they’ll well, you know.

      It is an interesting question though, at what level of harm and alleviation of the harm, are we fine with government mandating that people undergo an experimental medical procedure? SARS-COV2, and the gene therapy being pushed, ain’t even close to it, IMHO. But what about a Superflu?

      1. But what about a Superflu?

        I’m as big a Curtis Mayfield fan as the next guy, but I don’t think we should mandate listening to him.

  7. Strict adherence to the Constitution or the 10th amendment is not always going to give the answer libertarians desire. No libertarian I know has ever argued that the Constitution is 100% libertarian, so of course even the most strict constitutionalist judge is going to make decisions with which libertarians disagree.

    1. It’s a good thing. That’s exactly what we should want and expect from a Supreme Court justice.

  8. People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere.

    It’s only a product which you planned months of your life around and will be charged thousands of dollars for. It’s not like it’s something important like a wedding cake.

    1. People who feel they need to be around 100% vaccinated may go elsewhere.

    2. People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere.
      ——

      Yeah! Separate but equal!

    3. Getting vaccinated its easy. Being a dumbass is not a protected class.

      1. Except in Oregon.

      2. Being a dumbass is not a protected class.

        Apparently it’s an educated class.

        The most vaccine-hesitant group of all? PhDs

        1. lol a paper by mostly undergrads which includes a wordcount that did an online survery and found 20% hesitancy, when we know for sure way more conservatives are way higher, and diverge from just about every other survey for groups more commonly surveyed… more “research” from the fucking idiot brigade.

          But hey I guess shit quality research is great when it lets you conform to your groupthink of other uneducated dipshits.

          1. Was that post basically you agreeing with yourself to make you feel better?

          2. a paper by mostly undergrads
            Appeal to authority
            includes a wordcount
            Red Herring
            when we know for sure way more conservatives are way higher
            Appeal to common belief
            more “research” from the fucking idiot brigade.
            Ad hominem
            it lets you conform to your groupthink of other uneducated dipshits
            Tell us about it, Janet.

  9. And Commie-Education takes on yet another battle of [WE] mobs.
    The USA wasn’t founded on Communism short of Commie-Defense.

  10. Hopefully this will pave the way for state vaccine mandates for everyone and we can finally get a handle on the pandemic.

  11. So what other government mandated experimental treatments will the Covid ‘deadly pandemic’ set legal precedence for?

    Because government overreach never ramps down, right Libertarians?

  12. So schools, businesses etc no can practice medicine and mandate treatments for patients they have never examined and don’t have the training and education to evaluate in the first place.
    Will they take responsibility for any that have adverse reactions to this mandated medical treatment? Do they have malpractice insurance?

  13. I feel like this issue is not the kind you want to punt on. The underlying ask of US citizens is to politically segregate themselves. The government doesn’t care if it can’t technically mandate vaccines itself because it has other levers of power that can create the same outcome.

    It’s the same issue big L libertarians fail to address with tech monopolies. Censorship is okay as long as a private company does it, but nobody ever takes that to its logical conclusion and asks what good a piece of paper does when nobody believes in its values anymore.

    If you’ve ever wondered why elected officials disrespect the Constitution, now you know. Our laws only have value to the extent that we share those values. We don’t share those values anymore and our selective enforcement and mental gymnastics in court show it.

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