As Expected, The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Denied the Injunction Request of the Indiana University Students against the COVID Vaccine Mandate
As predicted, the federal appellate court denied the request for an injunction pending appeal of the IU students lawsuit against the COVID mandate. Hey, it’s an appellate court and it is bound by Jacobson.
The decision is only a few pages, but it did mention an issue raised by a commenter about wanting to force a university to have remote learning. The court of appeal said no can do. The university gets to make that call, not the courts.
Here is the decision. Nothing really surprising in it.
I have to believe that the lawyers knew they were going to lose and didn’t so much care. Now they will file a petition with Justice Barrett to seek a temporary injunction pending appeal.
Per my previous post, I don’t think they’ll get it, and I don’t think the Supreme’s will take it up because it’s not the hot button issue for the conservative members of the court which is infringement on religious practices. But you never know.
It would really throw a monkey wrench into public health determinations by state and local governments if they did not have the ability to issue vaccine mandates during what most people believe is a new wave of the pandemic, and that is why I have said that I expect the Supremes to punt for now. We will see.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.
5 thoughts on “As Expected, The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Denied the Injunction Request of the Indiana University Students against the COVID Vaccine Mandate”
Here we go again. “Ample educational opportunities” are not available to everyone; circumstances vary depending on where you live and the source of your livelihood. Who are these judges kidding? They are not considering the economic hardship to students displaced by these policies, which is relatively far greater than it is to the school. One usually cannot simply pick up and go somewhere else. What about the irreversible financial losses associated with nontransferable courses or the disruption to progress in a degree program, and subsequent delayed entrance into the workforce? If universities accommodate sick or injured students with remote options, what is unreasonable about requiring them to extend the same accommodation to unvaccinated students? It’s completely unjust. The cost to the school to continue remote learning as an option for a student is negligible, but the cost of what is effectively expulsion can be devastating to the student. And this doesn’t even consider intangible but other very real costs like increased stress and anxiety about one’s future. How is holding a student hostage in this way not a form of coercion?
It was my understanding the in Jacobsen, the alternative to the vaccination was a fine. Equivalent fine in today’s money would be about $150. Hardly a comparison when declining a vaccine today means your job or your education. Is Jacobsen so solid that it can’t be argued that today’s vaccine mandates and the consequence of not complying isn’t equivalent?
Judges in all of these vaccine mandate cases are paying lip service to “bodily integrity” but are narrowly interpreting “force” in the context of vaccination to be physical duress. That is specious, as compulsion can take many forms, including “undue influence,” in “the victim is under the domination of the persuader or is one who, in view of the relationship between them, is warranted in believing that the persuader will act in a manner detrimental to the victim’s welfare if the victim fails to assent.” The judges consistently fall back on the argument that there is no compulsion because “options” are available to the plaintiffs, which amount to the following: medical and religious exemptions, a leave of absence, transfer to another institution, and, in some cases, remote learning. Let’s consider each of these. Medical and religious exemptions are only options in a theoretical sense; they do not apply to most students, are rarely granted, and are irrelevant in lawsuits based on personal choice. Leaving aside the costs incurred by delayed graduation, a leave of absence is typically not a long-term option; at UC campuses on the quarter system, for example, you are expelled after one “gap quarter,” and no reasonable person would expect current mandates to end within one quarter or semester. Transfer to another institution is not a viable alternative either. You can’t change colleges like you can change jobs. Former Houston Methodist employees can apply for work at more than 85 hospitals in the metro area, but even a large city might have only one or two colleges. Educational opportunities are not “ample” unless you have the resources and freedom to relocate. Moreover, academic institutions are not as interchangeable as jobs; a community college is not comparable to a university if the purpose of attendance is to obtain an advanced degree. In addition, academic progress is not equivalent to progress within a profession—it has a definite end point (usually reached in 4-5 years) with stages that are specific to both the degree and the institution. I agree that in a public health emergency remote learning is a reasonable option because it allows students to remain enrolled and does not interrupt their education. However, UC does not offer this option, and so I would argue there is no “reasonable” alternative.
On a side note, there is already a booming business in fake vaccination cards—I don’t know whether this impacts mandate cases, but if universities are ignoring this development and don’t have adequate controls or safeguards, they are complicit in violations of their policy.
One more thing: Larry Elder has publicly declared against mask or vaccine mandates. If, against all odds, he were to prevail in the recall election, under California law would he have the executive authority to rescind the UC/Calstate mandates, or would that have to originate in the legislature?
I echo other readers and thank you for posting the legal documents in these cases and keeping us abreast of developments, which receive little media coverage. It’s dispiriting but informative.
“Dispiriting” I don’t think you’ve seen dispiriting yet. If there’s a big uptick in hospitalizations and eventual deaths in kids too young to be vaccinated, it’s going to get much, much worse, and that will give new meaning to “dispiriting”, regulation-wise in terms of what the community thinks is discrimination against them. Ok maybe you have seen dispiriting because of the situation with your son, but I see real limitations to freedom of participation coming beyond what NYC announced even, if it gets bad. Fear breeds extreme reaction from governmental authority.
I hear you. Yes, in the big picture my son’s education is quickly receding in significance. After FDA approval, which will happen regardless of the science, things are going to get REALLY draconian.