Could Indiana University’s vaccine mandate set a precedent for UNC System?

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – If you don’t want to get vaccinated, find another school.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett allowed that lower court opinion to stand. Previous rulings by a federal district judge and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Indiana University’s vaccine mandate after it was challenged by several students.

“I think the precedent at Indiana will be precedent for the University of North Carolina system,” said attorney and Wake Forest University law professor Don Vaughan.

Vaughan said Barrett’s decision means the UNC System should no longer have any legal hesitance to issue its own vaccine mandate for both students and staff.

“I don’t think they have a choice but to require the vaccines and go on from there. It was really interesting, the Court of Appeals decision, if you don’t want to go to school there, go somewhere else,” he said.

Each Supreme Court justice is assigned to various circuits. Barrett presides over the 7th Circuit, which includes Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

As in similar challenges against stay-at-home orders and face masks, the courts cited a 1905 Supreme Court decision upholding Massachusetts law requiring residents to get a smallpox vaccine or face a fine. Vaughn said Barrett’s denial for injunctive relief could reach beyond universities and could include public schools and corporations.

“I think this will be a far-reaching precedent that the Supreme Court rejected without any hearing at all of the arguments made by the eight students that appealed the decision,” he said.

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