Eight Indiana University students have sued the school to have the mandate that requires students, faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine to return to school in the fall, declared unconstitutional.
“We have a constitutionally-protected right to bodily integrity,” said James Bopp, Jr., with the Bopp law firm of Terre Haute, who represents the eight students in the suit filed Monday. “We must consent to an invasion of our body. That’s part of our liberty.”
Bopp said he does not believe the government has a compelling reason to do so, in this instance.
“As the pandemic is receding, all other governmental agencies, the federal, state and local, are all easing or eliminating all of their requirements or restrictions and nobody has ever mandated vaccination,” he said.
IU maintains that the vaccine requirement will allow them to eliminate all other restrictions, including social distancing and mask requirements on campus.
Bopp’s suit is partially predicated on Indiana Atty. Gen. Todd Rokita’s assertion that the school is a branch of government and must follow government rules.
Bopp said the exemptions are few and do not include people who have already have COVID, which he says provides natural immunity. Doctors have still encouraged people who have had the shot to get the vaccine, saying the level of immunity it provides is better than just having had the virus.
The exemptions do include religious reasons, allergies to the vaccine, people with medical deferrals and people who will only attend online classes. People who are on-campus without the vaccine will have to wear a mask.
“There’s a lot of students concerned that if they’re masked they’ll be singled out as non-conformist, people who have not done what the establishment says to do and they’re gonna be punished for that by shunning or harassment,” said Bopp.
The goal of the suit is to have the mandate declared unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Bopp said that older people have been shown to be affected worse by COVID, and there is no mandate that they be vaccinated.
“To punish somebody for making a choice is coercion. In other words, everything will be peachy if you say yes. But, if you say no, we’re gonna throw you out of school. We’re gonna cancel your IU card. We’re gonna prohibit you from coming to class.”
Bopp said the eight people who are suing are just a few of the many who have contacted him asking for action.