Indiana University & Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccinations

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Hi, I’m Danny Karon, your Lovable Lawyer, on campus today with your university shot of vaccination wellness.

I’m going to talk a bit about what happened at Indiana University, my alma mater. For the fall semester, they’re requiring mandatory vaccinations. I said about a week and a half ago that it is not unconstitutional for states to require vaccinations. In that video, I explained that under the U.S. Supreme Court case Jacobson vs. Massachusetts back in 1905, states can require compulsory vaccinations.

We’re going to talk about how that has affected Indiana University. Back in 1905, the state of Massachusetts was dealing with a smallpox epidemic and they required vaccinations subject to a criminal fine in the city of Cambridge. Jacobson didn’t like that and he went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court basically said that you don’t have constitutional rights to make your neighbor sick and with that, it was decided and ruled upon. It was decreed as the law of the land that states indeed have the right to require compulsory vaccinations.

Let’s fast forward to 2021. Indiana, a public school, decided they were going to require vaccinations for all incoming students for the fall semester. Eight students didn’t like it and went to court. They filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northers district of Indiana. They requested a preliminary injunction, which is a request of the court to make Indiana stop with the compulsory vaccinations until the case litigated its way through court. The judge said that Indiana could move forward. The students appealed to the next level up – the Court of Appeals for the seventh circuit out of Chicago. The seventh circuit channeled its decision through Jacobson vs. Massachusetts. They said it was legal to require vaccinations in 1905 and it is legal in 2021.

Inf fact, the judge stated that the vaccination requirement in Indiana is structured even better than the one in Cambridge in 1905 for a couple reasons. One is that the mandate provides exemptions for medical and religious reasons. Two is that it doesn’t apply to everyone in the state – only IU students. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, you can go to another school. There are a lot of accommodations that Indiana built into this rule as to make it not unconstitutional.

The students then petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court and asked for an emergency ruling to hold off on this rule. The newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, didn’t wait for a response from the state of Indiana. She didn’t even ask for the whole court to vote. Instead, in a one-line ruling, she denied the application of the students to put off the compulsory vaccination requirement.

Indiana was the first to test whether colleges can require vaccinations and the court unequivocally said yes. Does that mean that all students at all public universities are going to be required to get vaccinations? No. In a lot of states, you’re not going to see it because there are a lot of timid legislatures out there who aren’t going to go that far.

What’s our takeaway? I think it means that we can’t count on the states to do what’s right to protect us and to put down this pandemic. Instead, we have to tell our friends and neighbors to get vaccinated and have our friends and neighbors tell their friends and neighbors to get vaccinated. It’s essential to preserving humankind and maintaining a safe society.

That’s today’s on-campus vaccination shot of legal wellness for you. I hope it helps to round out this story theme. To learn more, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linked In. I’ll keep doing my part and you keep doing yours.

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