After Indiana University recently implemented a vaccine mandate for all students, parents founded The IU Family for Choice not Mandates group and filed a lawsuit Monday against the university.
The publicly funded university sent an email to all faculty, staff, and students announcing they are “required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” according to a press release. The university threatened employees who do not want to take the vaccine, noting that if they refuse it, their employment will be terminated. Similarly, students who refuse the vaccine will lose access to all IU systems and have their class registration revoked.
In response, James Bopp Jr. of the Bopp Law Firm, P.C, who is representing The IU Family for Choice not Mandates, has filed a public records request asking for “all public records regarding the making of this decision and for all public records related to the implementation of this policy to determine whether or not this mandate is justified,” also warning that IU’s policy “opens the door to intentional religious discrimination” and that the University “could be in violation of federal law.”
Several students are moving ahead with a lawsuit that was filed Monday, alleging that IU’s mandate “violates the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which includes rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity, and the right to reject medical treatment” and that it is a violation of “Indiana’s new Vaccine Passport Law which prohibits state and local units (including Indiana University (“IU”)) from requiring or issuing vaccine ‘passports’ that indicate an individual’s COVID immunization status.”
The mandate has already received backlash from Indiana’s Attorney General Todd Rokita, who said the mandate “unquestionably violates the new law” in an official opinion issued on May 26th.
While IU will provide exemptions for those with documented medical exemptions and legally protected religious grounds, which the Bopp Law Firm calls them “extremely limited,” as no exemption is provided for those who have natural immunity as a result of having already contracted the COVID-19 virus. Furthermore, those who are able to receive an exemption are subject to additional restrictions such as bi-weekly testing.
The lawsuit has the potential to set a precedent that could prevent other universities and government-funded institutions from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.