I am repeatedly asked by parents and UC students what they should do about the UC mandate and what about the legal challenges. Ditto by/from UC employees.
I am actually aware of only one filed legal challenge and that is the federal lawsuit recently filed in Riverside County federal court by the Frontier doctor group. That lawsuit does not cover all UC students, but only those who have had COVID, under the theory that if you’ve had the disease (and presumably you still have the antibodies) you don’t need the vaccine.
I keep hearing about a general lawsuit challenging the general mandate on behalf of UC students but I haven’t seen the papers, nor can I confirm that it has been filed.
Here is my advice:
I think you should assume that no legal challenge, filed or to be filed against the UC will stop the mandate from going into effect in August, and no lawsuit will stop the mandate for any part of the upcoming school year. I have some freedom to say this because I am not involved in any such case and I don’t want to be because I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that a district or superior court is going to stop the UC mandate for a vaccine intended to stop the spread of the pandemic virus.
Like it or not (and I know you all hate it), Jacobson is the law of the land, and the law allows state and local governments to impose what they think (and the courts will agree) are reasonable rules including vaccine mandates (as opposed to actually forced vaccination which is a completely different issue).
All trial courts and appellate courts are required to follow Jacobson until the U.S. Supreme Court says otherwise. And yes, the Jacobson constitutional test (reasonably relationship) is outdated and now we have the three levels of scrutiny. However, I think the district judge in the Indiana University case got it right when he held that IU’s policy is governed by the lowest level of scrutiny (rational relationship, which is barely a test/requirement). I know the plaintiffs in these cases are arguing for strict scrutiny, but I don’t think that will fly (and it’s not much of a prediction on my part since the Indiana judge rejected it).
I know that the plaintiffs are also trying to wrap themselves in the mantel of the Supreme Court’s Cuomo case (which struck down religious restrictions during the pandemic). The judge in the IU case rejected it. I predict that the court of appeals will reject it also (and the denial of the preliminary injunction is up on appellate review). The plaintiffs will then seek emergency review with the Supreme Court. My crystal ball is a little foggy about whether they’ll get a review by the Supremes, but I’m vaguely seeing that the application will be turned down, which would not be a substantive rejection.
I’m going with that because I don’t think there will be four judges who want to deal with this kind of case in the middle of what I think all nine justices think is a very dangerous public health crisis (and I know most of you don’t agree with that assessment). Therefore, the best move for the Supremes is to punt and let the case come up through normal channels and time frames (like a couple of years) in large part so the state public health officials and governments can deal with the crises.
I think that’s a simple and easy call because let’s face it, they’re not lining people up and injecting them yet. If and when they start doing that, I think the Supremes will weigh in quickly, and that’s a case I would be extremely interested in, in part because I think the Supremes would be happy to overturn the actual precedent that allowed the government to do that (and that would be Buck v Bell, and O.W. Homles infamous jingle that “three generations of idiots are enough” which he said to justify forced sterilization). Like I said, for that case, count me in, and I can assure you all that is a case where the courts (and even the lower courts) will apply strict scrutiny.
But in these current and future UC cases, I am not seeing a fundamental right for any student or worker to study or work at the UC, which means a rational relationship, which means the plaintiffs get tossed out of court.
This is my legal opinion as to why I think you should assume that none of the lawsuits against the UC will succeed. Therefore, all UC students and employees are going to have to get vaccinated, get an accommodation/exemption (and you can forget about a medical exemption because ME’s like the ones given under SB 277 will not be accepted, the short of it being, no contraindication (or precaution) no exemption, period), or find someplace else to study or work.
I think your choices are that clear and that simple.
With all the crap and nonsense flying around about these lawsuits, someone has to tell people who are facing these tough choices what’s what, and since no one else seems to be stepping up to the plate, I guess I’m that guy.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.