Amy Coney Barrett Did ... Right Thing On COVID Vaccines? Well OK Then!
Photo: Phil Roeder, Creative Commons license 2.0

Amy Coney Barrett ruled the right way?

And her ruling may indicate our nutso Supreme Court is going to be sane about COVID vaccines?

I'm as confused as anyone. But I also know that, in 2021, we should take wins wherever we can get them.

Last week, Amy Bony Carrot declined to get involved in Klaassen v. Trustees of Indiana University, where a group of IU students are trying to block the school's requirement that students receive a COVID vaccine before returning to campus. This ruling left in place lower court decisions that found the school's vaccine mandate was constitutional.

Suck it, psychos.

How it started

In May, Indiana University announced it was requiring COVID vaccines for all students, faculty, and staff at all IU campuses throughout the state. Limited exceptions are available for people with medical deferrals or exemptions, religious exemptions under Indiana's RFRA, ethical objections, and students whose programs are 100 percent online. People who get exemptions are required to get twice-weekly COVID testing, quarantine if exposed to the virus, wear face masks, and return home if the campus has a major outbreak.

This really shouldn't be controversial, as a matter of law or policy. As any former student can tell you, you have to have lots of vaccinations to attend public school. Nonetheless, a group of students — who presumably have received all of the other shots IU students have to get — decided to file a federal lawsuit.

You see, according to these budding geniuses and their obviously brilliant attorneys, trying to stop students from dying in the midst of a deadly worldwide pandemic "violates the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which includes rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity, and the right to reject medical treatment."

Quick, someone ask them about their feelings on abortion rights!

How it's going

Northern District of Indiana Judge Damon Leichty, a Trump appointee, quickly shut down the students' bullshit and ruled that Indiana University had likely acted constitutionally in "pursu[ing] a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty, and staff."

The Seventh Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction over Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, upheld Judge Leichty's order. Circuit Judges Easterbrook, Scudder, and Kirsch ruled 3-0 that this case was fucking stupid (paraphrasing), reminding everyone involved that 1905 Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which is still on the books, allowed the state to require all members of the public to be vaccinated against smallpox, and, therefore, "there can't be a constitutional problem with vaccination against SARS-CoV-2." The law at issue in Jacobson didn't have any exemptions! And, since it's still good law, all of these assholes can go suck an egg. (Paraphrasing again.)

Next stop: the Supreme Court. In normal times, there would be no question that SCOTUS would defer to all the precedent upholding vaccine mandates by public schools. But, as we know all too well by now, nothing about the time we live in is normal. And we have a nine-person high court with six radical right-wing judicial activists on it, so it's hard to give them the benefit of the doubt on, really, anything.

So here's the deal. Each circuit court has a Supreme Court justice assigned to it for emergency petitions. It's up to that justice to decide whether to step in or whether to involve the full Court in the decision. For the Seventh Circuit, that justice is Amy Bony Carrot. And, without referring the case to the full Court or noting any objections, Barrett denied the appeal.

This is good for a few reasons, only one of which is keeping students at Indiana University alive. When a justice doesn't refer a case to the full Court that usually means it wasn't close. When the justices expect a close vote on an issue or problems from the full Court, they usually make the referral and the Court notes any objections.

So yay!

Ryan Klaassen and his buddies at IU aren't the only jackasses literally making a federal case out of their schools trying to prevent students' unnecessary deaths. As idiots nationwide have realized they can become Fox News Famous by abusing our federal court system, students and faculty alike have filed similar dumbass suits in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, and California.

We are still living in the dumbest timeline and probably aren't going to see an end to this fuckery any time soon. But, hopefully, Amy Bony Carrott's quick denial in Klaassen is a sign that the Supreme Court, at least, plans to stay out of the sure idiocy we're seeing in response to vaccine mandates. Fingers crossed!

When even all the Trump appointees think your bullshittery is bloody nonsense, you JUST MIGHT be too far gone.

[Complaint / Dist. Ct. Opinion / 7th Cir. Opinion]

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.

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