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Conservatives rage at “Amy Commie Barrett” after she sides with college’s vaccine mandate

Amy Coney Barrett at her 2017 confirmation hearings for a federal judgeship.
Amy Coney Barrett at her 2017 confirmation hearings for a federal judgeship.Photo: Screenshot CSPAN via Wikipedia

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is getting scorn from the anti-vaccine right online because she turned down a case from an anti-LGBTQ lawyer to stop a university’s vaccine mandate.

James Bopp spent years filing lawsuits on behalf of anti-LGBTQ organizations like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in order to roll back LGBTQ rights, but his more recent work is an attempt to stop Indiana University (IU) from requiring students to get a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus this fall.

Related: Anti-LGBTQ hate group leader attended Amy Coney Barrett’s COVID-spreading party

Bopp, representing eight students, said that the vaccine mandate violated their 14th Amendment right to “bodily integrity.”

IU “is treating its students as children who cannot be trusted to make mature decisions,” Bopp argued at the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit earlier this month.

But the court shot the lawsuit down, with Judge Frank Easterbrook writing: “People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere.”

Bopp appealed to the Supreme Court and Justice Barrett refused to hear the case and didn’t refer it to other justices for consideration, journalist Steven Mazie reports. Even worse for the anti-vaccine students, she didn’t bother requesting a response from IU – she said his claim was “meritless” on its own. She didn’t even write an opinion.

Barrett was nominated by Donald Trump just months before the 2020 election last year after the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. Republican senators rushed to confirm her – partly out of fear that they would lose their Senate majority and partly so that she could rule in favor of Trump if election issues made it to the Supreme Court – and she took the bench a week before the election was held.

In the brief time between her nomination and confirmation, LGBTQ advocates pointed out that her background was similar to activists like Bopp and that she had strong ties to an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

“You can be certain that LGBT extremists will be doing everything in their power to block this confirmation,” wrote Brian Brown of NOM at the time. “It’s imperative that we be on the front lines fighting for control of the Supreme Court by demanding that Republicans support President Trump’s nominee.”

But it turns out she doesn’t see eye-to-eye with others in the anti-LGBTQ movement when it comes to vaccines. Many conservatives denounced her on Twitter, calling her a “disaster” and “Amy Commie Barrett.”

Many of her critics claim that Barrett betrayed the anti-choice movement, but she may have actually been giving opponents of women’s rights a victory.

Bopp claimed that the 14th Amendment’s implied protection of “bodily integrity” means that IU can’t force students to get vaccinated, despite the fact that the university has been asking students for proof of several vaccines for years.

But the Supreme Court hasn’t recognized that the 14th Amendment protects bodily integrity. While some courts have acknowledged that right, Barrett was probably aware that Bopp’s expansive interpretation of that right could cause problems for anti-choice activists down the road.

The appeals court didn’t need to decide whether the Constitution protects bodily integrity in the IU case, though, since not everyone has to attend IU.

“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,” Judge Easterbrook wrote. “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.”

Moreover, the Supreme Court already ruled in Jacobson v. Massachusetts in 1905 that the government can require everyone to get a vaccine, whether they’re students or not.

Bopp has argued in many failed cases opposing LGBTQ rights, including on behalf of NOM when they didn’t want to release the names of their anti-LGBTQ donors as required under election law.

“The homosexual lobby has launched a nationwide campaign to harass supporters of traditional marriage,” Bopp argued, calling it “unfair” that NOM was forced to follow the same rules that other political organizations have to follow.

He also testified against an Indiana hate crimes bill in the state legislature and told a story of how protestors threw semen at his suit jacket when he gave a speech at Cornell University.

“But I didn’t get AIDS,” Bopp told lawmakers to sum up the bizarre story.

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