Eight students, ranging from incoming freshmen to graduate students, filed a federal lawsuit against Indiana University on Monday over the public college's requirement that all students, staff and faculty be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus in the fall.
According to the lawsuit, the students are claiming that the requirement "violates the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which includes rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity, and the right to reject medical treatment."
The lawsuit also argues that IU's mandate further violates Indiana's new vaccine passport law, which prohibits "state and local units" from requiring citizens to present proof of vaccination through a "passport" system.
According to the IndyStar, IU's vaccine mandate has been the center of controversy in the state since it was introduced last month. Some state officials have reportedly asked the school to rescind the policy, while others have asked the state's governor, Eric Holcomb, to block it. The state's Attorney General, Todd Rokita, also weighed in on the policy, arguing in a public opinion that it violated state law.
After legislators passed the vaccine passport law, the university kept but amended its policy to say that students and staff are not required to provide documentation proving that they have been vaccinated, but instead must verify that they have been vaccinated on an online form.
"The requirement for all Indiana University students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated before the return to school in August remains in place," a university spokesperson said on Monday. "As part of IU's response to the ongoing pandemic, the vaccine mandate is helping to support a return to safe and more normal operations this fall," the spokesperson continued.
James Bopp Jr., the attorney representing the students in the case, argued in a press release that "IU's Mandate does not take into account that virtually everyone on IU's campus, whether professors, staff, or students, can take the vaccine to protect themselves, and wear masks and social distance, if they want to."
He continued, "Thus, IU allows for one and only one option for IU students who do not qualify for its limited exemptions —take the vaccine or be virtually expelled from IU. This kind of total disregard for student freedom to choose for themselves, for student's bodily autonomy, and for the need for voluntary and informed consent cannot stand under the U.S. Constitution."
According to the IndyStar, several of the students involved in the lawsuit have applied and been granted exemptions from the vaccine based on their religious beliefs.
Photo courtesy: ©GettyImages/Ridofranz
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.