Eight students sued the school in June, claiming the mandate violates their 14th Amendment rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity.
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Judge Damon R. Leichty of the U.S. District Court for Northern Indiana says public health concerns take precedence over individual freedom when it comes to the school’s COVID-19 policy, according to the NY Times.
The federal judge ruled that the university has the right to “pursue a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty, and staff.”
The judge also denied the students’ motion for a preliminary injunction that would have temporarily halted the vaccine requirement.
In his 101-page opinion, the judge wrote that unvaccinated students and those without exemptions will not be allowed on campus or hold university email accounts.
Exceptions are students who qualify for medical, religious or ethical exemptions or those attending online programs. Students who do qualify for exemption must take additional measures that include wearing masks on campus and taking additional COVID-19 tests.
The ruling is apparently the first in favor of an educational institution’s vaccine mandate and could set the bar for other schools.
The lawyer representing the eight students, James Bopp, Jr., says he’ll appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The case could reach the Supreme Court in the next two weeks.