Thursday, August 12, 2021
Justice Amy Coney Barrett today declined to enjoin Indiana University's vaccine requirement, without referring the matter to the entire Court, and without explanation. Justice Barrett issued the order, because she's the justice assigned to the Seventh Circuit, where the case arose. The plaintiffs' application is here.
The case, Klaassen v. Trustees of Indiana University, tested IU's COVID vaccine requirement for students. Eight students argued that the requirement violated due process, but the Seventh Circuit disagreed. In an appropriately curt ruling (given the state of the law), the court simply said that Jacobson v. Massachusetts foreclosed the plaintiffs' argument. (That's the that 1905 case that upheld Massachusetts's smallpox vaccine requirement under a deferential standard.) Indeed, the Seventh Circuit said that this case was easier than Jacobson, because IU's requirement contains religious and medical exceptions (which Massachusetts's requirement did not), and because IU's requirement only applies to the IU community (and not the community at large).
Today's ruling means that IU can impose its vaccine requirement--and that other universities can, too--without violating due process.