Eight students from Indiana University (IU) filed a lawsuit in a federal court on Monday against the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, saying the mandate is unconstitutional and violates Indiana’s ban on vaccine passports.
The Bopp Law Firm represented the eight students and sued the board of trustees—the IU’s governing body and legal owner.
“IU’s Mandate violates the constitutional rights of IU’s students—it requires all IU students without any meaningful exemptions to take the COVID vaccine,” lead counsel James Bopp said in a statement, noting that no government entity and no other Indiana public university requires a COVID-19 vaccination.
“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,” Bopp added.
On May 21, 2021, IU notified all faculty, staff, and students through email that there would be a requirement to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for the fall semester.
Failing to do so will result in students’ class registrations being canceled, their university-issued IDs terminated, and being prohibited from any on-campus activity.
Faculty and staff who do not comply will “no longer be able to be employed” by IU.
“Approved exemptions will be extremely limited to a very narrow set of criteria,” the university’s website reads. The exemptions include religious exemptions, medical exemptions with documentation or medical deferrals, and an online program exemption—it must be an online program, not simply taking all online classes.
According to the lawsuit, one plaintiff, Mr. D.J.B., was refused a medical exemption even though he recently had a COVID-19 antibody test which revealed that he still has antibodies.
Another plaintiff, Jaime Carini, was refused a medical exemption even though her physician provided a letter stating she should not receive any immunization due to her current illness. She received a religious exemption but faces extra requirements of masks and testing.
The lawsuit (pdf) points out that all three available COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—have only “Emergency Use Authorization” status and are not licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A vaccine authorized under Emergency Use Authorization requires “complete, informed, and voluntary consent,” the complaint claims, saying the threat of virtual expulsion from school is “coercion.”
BY LI HAI