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University Covid Vaccine Requirement as Constitutional as Tuition and Homework

With coronavirus pandemic persisting due to many Americans’ bad decisions, many institutions of higher education are mandating vaccines and masks. The Chronicle of Higher Education lists 643 colleges requiring students or employees to get their coronavirus shots. None of those are in South Dakota, although as we noted Sunday, South Dakota State University nursing students must get their shots before going out into the field for clinicals. In our neighboring states, students headed to Nebraska Wesleyan, Creighton, Grinnell, Gustavus Adolphus, St. Olaf, and St. Thomas must get coronavirus vaccines.

Those vaccine requirements appear likely to withstand court challenge. Eight students fighting Indiana University’s coronavirus vaccine requirement have lost at the district level and now at the appeals level. On Sunday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Indiana University violates no constitutional rights by requiring students to get their shots. The court notes that students must give up their property rights to attend college:

Each university may decide what is necessary to keep other students safe in a congregate setting. Health exams and vaccinations against other diseases… are common requirements of higher education. Vaccination protects not only the vaccinated persons but also those who come in contact with them, and at a university close contact is inevitable.

We assume with plaintiffs that they have a right in bodily integrity. They also have a right to hold property. Yet they or their parents must surrender property to attend Indian University. Undergraduates must part with at least $11,000 a year…, even though Indiana could not summarily confiscate that sum from all residents of college age [Judge Frank Easterbrook, writing for himself and Judges Scudder and Kirsch, ruling, Klaasen et al. v Trustees of Indiana University, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2021.08.02].

The court finds another analogy in our surrender of First Amendment rights to required reading and homework:

Other conditions of enrollment are normal and proper. The First Amendment means that a state cannot tell anyone what to read or write, but a state university may demand that students read things they prefer not to read and write things they prefer not to write. A student must read what a professor assigns, even if the student deems the books heretical, and must write exams or essays as required…. A student told to analyze the role of nihilism in Dostoevsky’s The Possessed but who submits an essay about Iago’s motivations in Othello will flunk [Easterbrook/7th Circuit, 2021.08.02].

In noting Indiana University’s exceptions for students with religious or medical issues, the 7th Circuit also affirms requirements for masking and covid testing:

…Indiana University has exceptions for persons who declare vaccination incompatible with their religious beliefs and persona for whom vaccination is medically contrasindicated. The problems that may arise when a state refuses to make accommodations therefore are not present in this case. Indeed, six of the eight plaintiffs have claimed the religious exception, and a seventh is eligible for it. These plaintiffs just need to wear masks and be tested, requirements that are not constitutionally problematic [Easterbrook/7th Circuit, 2021.08.02].

It’s unlikely our gubernatorially appointed Regents will allow SDSU to expand its vaccine requirement much beyond students who are working in health care settings. But if anyone tries to challenge even that narrow vaccine requirement (or the less intrusive mask requirements that the science indicates we should bring back), the 7th Circuit’s ruling indicates such challenges will fail.


  1. John Dale 2021-08-04

    Something to consider is that the vaccines have an expected death rate now. Death is a possibility. I’m not sure the same thing applies to homework and tuition as directly, in the context of analysis of the proximate cause.

    Case in point 1:
    “John went to the bookstore to get more pencils do finish him homework and fell down the stairs to the school supplies section. Tragically, although Bob Newland rejoiced, he did not survive the fall.”

    Case in point 2:
    “John was desperate to pay his tuition, so he spent every weekend at the local dive bar turning tricks. Sadly, he contracted an aggressive form of VD. He did not survive.”

    Case in point 3:
    “After receiving the second injection, John immediately passed out as his body’s immune system was thrust into a cytokine storm. He was intubated and ventilated. Sadly, the contents of his lungs liquified and he passed away.”

    I’m reminded of so many western movies I’ve seen where the traveling snake-oil salesman is tarred and feathered and run out of town.

    Does anyone really think we’ll cure the common cold with a spike protein that must be injected up to (and maybe more than) 10 times a year?

    Maybe Alex Jones was right .. “[we allowed millions of babies to be intentionally expired in the womb, and we deserve this.”]

    God help us.

    I stand with the unborn. This means that I must stand against rape and incest, and I must also hold women and men to the ramifications of their decisions to make love.

  2. sx123 2021-08-04

    These protestors have received multiple vaccinations as a child (hopefully), and these vaccinations are probably the reason these protestors are still alive or not severely handicapped. Are some people really this ungrateful? I think so. Vaccinations are a modern marvel.

    I can understand initial hesitancy, but really, these vaccinations were not developed just this last year. Researchers have been working on mRNA and viral vector platforms for many years! These are general platforms that can be engineered with different payloads when new threats emerge (or heck, even used for existing threats).

  3. John Dale 2021-08-04

    Why haven’t 200,000,000 people died from the virus if “vaccinations” are required to survive?

    Why are the “vaccinated” being hospitalized with variants if these experimental genetic therapies work?

    Answer the question: Is natural immunity better than the “vaccinated” immunity?

    Can you find me a piece of information?

    I’d like to see polio infection rates represented on the same graph as the introduction of more toxic public pool formulations (Chlorine etc), and public hygiene campaigns investment (TV, Radio, newspapers).

    Other than anecdotal, what is the evidence that vaccinations worked for polio, Chicken pox, etc?

    Doesn’t the scientific research say it’s better to get Chicken Pox as a child rather than be immunized against it?

    I’m a data guy .. if you can get me access to the real data, I can confirm/disconfirm these types of hypotheses.

    At the same time, I seem to have some kind of genetic memory of snake oil salesmen and the damage they’ve done to trust in medicine.

  4. bearcreekbat 2021-08-04

    An interesting decision by the 7th Circuit. If I recall correctly, Judge Easterbrook was nominated to the Circuit Court of Appeals by President Reagan and sports an extremely conservative reputation.. Judge Easterbrook’s rather extreme conservativism provides a reasonable measuring post to determine just how far out of reality some self-labeled conservatives or libertarians that push anti-vacine fiction have fallen.

  5. Porter Lansing 2021-08-04

    John Dale is Being Shunned …

  6. Jake 2021-08-05

    Porter, I guess we should all shun ignorance.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-08-05

    Well John, you’re a right wing data guy, why not admit it? The important question I have is how could Nadal wear blue and yellow. No wonder Sock almost won. He should wear Vermillion and clean clean up in D.C.

  8. Joe 2021-08-05

    As the appeals court judge stated in the Indiana University case: College students have to do lots of things to remain enrolled in good standing that they may object to: Pay tuition; read and write about stuff that doesn’t fit their personal world view; refrain from consuming alcohol on campus; etc. etc. They can always leave (see also: Employers requiring the vaccine).

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