U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has rejected a plea from Indiana University students to stop the school from instating a vaccine mandate.

Barrett, who most likely made the decision without consulting other justices, did not give a reason for rejecting the request.

This plea from students marks the first case about vaccine requirements to reach the Supreme Court.

Indiana University announced in May that all faculty, students and staff would need to be vaccinated before returning to campus unless they had a medical or religious exemption.


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Judge Frank Easterbrook, who wrote in the 7th Circuit opinion supporting the school, stated: “Each university may decide what is necessary to keep other students safe in a congregate setting. Vaccinations protect not only the vaccinated persons but also those who come in contact with them, and at a university close contact is inevitable.”

The students, however, are claiming that the vaccine mandate is a constitutional violation. “Students are facing IU’s imminent demand that they relinquish their constitutional rights in order to start school this fall,” their application said. It added that the school “is coercing students to give up their rights to bodily integrity, autonomy, and of medical treatment choice in exchange for the discretionary benefit of matriculating at IU.”

The students’ lawyer James Bopp wrote: “The risk of serious morbidity and mortality from COVID for those under 30 is close to zero. The known and unknown risks associated with COVID vaccines, particularly in those under 30, outweigh the risks to that population from the disease itself. Protection of others does not relieve our society from the central canon of medical ethics requiring voluntary and informed consent.”

Easterbrook noted that the vaccine requirement only applies to Indiana University and several other schools. “People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere,” he wrote.

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