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Federal judge upholds IU COVID-19 vaccine mandate

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on Monday ruled it will not block Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

A group of students previously filed a federal lawsuit against the school.

The group said the vaccine policy violated the student’s constitutional rights and the state’s vaccine passport law.

The ruling says the school can “pursue a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty and staff.”

Right now, all students, faculty and staff at Indiana University are required to get a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus, unless exempt.

Upcoming junior William Wachowski disagrees with IU’s vaccine mandate.

“I think that’s wrong, because I don’t think there’s enough science yet to back it up,” Wachowski said.

Now, a federal judge in Indiana says Indiana University can enforce the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“I think the judge, in upholding IU’s COVID vaccination mandate, made a fundamental error,” James Bopp, the director of litigation for America’s Frontline Doctors told News 8. “That’s something that we intend to raise expeditiously on appeal.”

In June, IU Students and parents protested the mandate on campus. Attorney James Bopp represents the group of students who sued the university to stop the vaccine mandate.

“These students are adults,” Bopp said. “They are not children that IU can just willy-nilly make decisions about. They have a right, just like everybody else, to decide what medical treatment they are going to receive and not receive.”

The judge ruled IU’s policy is not forced vaccination. He goes on to say students have options, like taking the vaccine, applying for a religious or medical exemption, medical deferral, taking a semester off or attending another university.

“The court also isn’t saying Indiana University (or any other state or state entity) may do whatever it wants to address COVID-19. Given the liberty at stake for these students here, the university must act reasonably in achieving a legitimate state goal of public health,” the ruling says.

IU Student, Tatiana Avila, supports the vaccine mandate.

“The sooner that everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner we can all go back to normal.” Avila said.

Bopp told News 8 he will file an appeal on Tuesday and will ask for an immediate injunction.

Indiana University issued this statement following the ruling:

A ruling from the federal court has affirmed Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccination plan designed for the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. We appreciate the quick and thorough ruling which allows us to focus on a full and safe return. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our campuses for the fall semester.