AG Rokita: Indiana University COVID-19 Vaccine Policy Violates State Law

May 26, 2021

Indiana University announced recently that all students, faculty and staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall term, with limited religious and medical exemptions.
Credit FILE PHOTO: Peter Balonon-Rosen/IPB News

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita thinks an Indiana University policy that asks for proof of COVID-19 vaccination violates a new state law.

Rokita issued an advisory opinion on the issue Wednesday, prompted by requests from Republican lawmakers who oppose the university policy.

The new law, HB 1405, bans state and local governments from creating or requiring COVID vaccine passports. Legislative leaders and the bill’s authors and sponsors said that language didn’t mean K-12 schools or public universities.

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That language was crafted and approved in the final days of session, without any public hearings.

But Rokita said case law has repeatedly held that public universities are “arms of the state.” Therefore, he said, IU can’t ask students, faculty or staff for proof of vaccination.

The Republican AG stressed that the law doesn’t bar the university from requiring the vaccination – just that it can’t ask for proof.

Rokita’s opinion is non-binding and does not carry force of law.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.