Federal Court Upholds University’s Vaccine Mandate

In a case of first impression, an Indiana federal district court recently rejected a constitutional challenge brought by several students to a public university’s requirement that students receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of returning to campus. Rejecting the plaintiffs’ bid for a preliminary injunction precluding Indiana University from enforcing its vaccine requirement, the court concluded that the students’ constitutional claims were not likely to succeed on the merits because “Indiana University is reasonably pursuing a legitimate aim of public health for its students, faculty, and staff.” More specifically, the district court explained:

Under guiding principles of federalism, our Constitution preserves the power of the States, within constitutional limits, to adopt laws to provide for public health and safety. Twice the United States Supreme Court has upheld state authority to compel reasonable vaccinations. The States don’t have arbitrary power, but they have discretion to act reasonably in protecting the public’s health.

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