Various institutes of higher education across the U.S. have imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates on students attending classes on campus — and a challenge to one such requirement has quickly advanced all the way to the nation’s highest court.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, however, declined to issue the requested injunction or refer the case to the entire court for consideration.
Supreme Court won’t hear case
According to the Washington Examiner, Barrett, who oversees the judicial circuit in which the appeal was made, offered no explanation for her decision.
The challenge stems from a mandate instituted at Indiana University, which was upheld by a lower court.
Reporter Amy Howe shared the news on Twitter, explaining that the Supreme Court “will not block Indiana University’s vaccine requirement for students.”
She later wrote on SCOTUSblog that Barrett not only rejected the students’ petition without comment but also declined to seek a reply from the university or request a vote from the full court on whether or not to take up the case.
Howe suggested that the decision likely meant that Barrett and the other justices did not view this case as being worthy of their consideration, noting that this was the first case dealing with vaccine mandates to reach the Supreme Court.
Details from the complaint
The university announced in May that all faculty, staff, and students would be required to prove they had been vaccinated, with very few exceptions, before they would be allowed on campus. The policy also included harsh consequences for those who failed to comply.
A group of eight students sought an injunction against the rule, but a district court ruled last month in favor of the school. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals similarly denied the requested injunction, resulting in the petition for relief from the high court.
The students’ central argument hinged on the claim that the lower courts failed to apply sufficient scrutiny to the university’s mandate, which they asserted was a violation of their 14th Amendment right to due process with regard to their “bodily integrity and autonomy and medical treatment choice.”
Specifically, the students pointed out that the mandate exceeded the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for the vaccines, recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and medical ethics.
Furthermore, they noted that overall student demographics placed the population at minimal risk of hospitalization or death as a result of contracting the virus.