• The Supreme Court allowed Indiana University to require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • A group of students asked the court to block the requirement, a request that lower courts denied.
  • The case is the first legal battle over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to reach the Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request by a group of students to block Indiana University’s vaccine requirement for students.

The decision allows the university to enforce its mandate that students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to campus and attend in-person classes in the fall.

A group of eight students had filed a request for emergency relief, arguing that they should have the right to make their own medical choices and that they believed the risks of getting vaccinated as young adults “outweigh the risks to that population from the disease itself.”

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who serves as the circuit justice for the federal appeals court involved in the case, made the decision to reject the students’ request without taking up the case or consulting other justices, suggesting there was not much legal justification for the request. She did not provide an explanation for her decision.

The decision marks the first time the Supreme Court has been confronted with a legal challenge to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Indiana University’s mandate allows for religious and medical exemptions, and Politico reported that seven of the eight students who filed the lawsuit had received or were eligible for an exemption.

Barrett’s decision came after lower courts had already ruled against the request, citing a 1905 Supreme Court decision that let states require smallpox vaccines and noting that vaccination requirements have been common in the US. The courts also said other vaccinations and health exams are already required to attend the school.

According The Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 700 college campuses in the US are requiring at least some students or employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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