The Q&A law | Compulsory vaccinations a sensitive subject for some college students | Columns


Can a university require its students to be vaccinated before entering its premises and attending classes?

Yes So far.

You may have heard the headlines where eight Indiana University students filed a lawsuit in federal court, asking the court to declare that the mandatory vaccination policy for IU students violates their constitutional rights to freedom. The students sought an injunction until a full trial on all the merits of the case was held.

Remember that an injunction is a court order requiring someone to do or not do something. Here, the students asked the court to ban IU from implementing its mandatory vaccination policy until a trial is completed with a final decision.

However, to get a judge to issue an injunction in federal court – like many state laws dealing with injunctions – the party seeking the injunction must convince the judge of certain things. These elements are: 1) strong evidence that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims; 2) that they will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted; and 3) the balance of prejudice and the public interest favor such a remedy.

The federal judge rejected the injunction request. This does not mean that the judge definitively ruled that the students had not proved their unconstitutionality. It simply means that they have not convinced the judge that they are likely to succeed on their merits, would not suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted, and the balance favors the public interest by allowing the immunization mandate to move forward at this time.

The students quickly appealed against this denial of the injunction request, which a losing party can do. The federal court of appeal to which the refusal was appealed also refused to issue an injunction.

Procedurally, the loser of the injunction can then ask the Supreme Court judge who is administratively responsible for overseeing the federal appeals court in question to review the decision and overturn it himself. Or he / she can ask his fellow judges for a joint decision on the immediate question of whether an injunction should be granted.

In this case, the appeals court in question is part of the administrative fiefdom of Judge Amy Corbett, appointed by Trump. She rejected the students’ request to quash the denial of the injunction by the lower courts. She did so without commenting. And she did so without asking her Supreme Court brothers to jointly rule.

However, students can still go ahead and try to prove that the vaccination mandate is unenforceable under their constitutional rights.

But here’s the thing about losing a pre-trial injunction claim on the merits of your case: if the trial and appellate judges report that you are not likely to win on the merits of your claim. , Are you having problems.

However, the story of whether a university can require vaccinations is not yet fully written. As is the story of whether mandatory vaccinations by employers, elementary schools, public housing or public transport services are legal.

The legal war waged by many Americans (and some of their state governors) to try to stop the government from trying to stop COVID-19 is as persistent as COVID-19’s vital war against the human population.

And as much an enigma shrouded in a mystery within an enigma as the disease itself.

Brett Kepley is a lawyer with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Inc. Send your questions to The Law Q&A, 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL 61820.

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