Klaassen v. Trustees of Indiana University, No. 21-2326 (7th Cir. 2022)

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This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on August 2, 2021.

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In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit ____________________ No. 21-2326 RYAN KLAASSEN, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. TRUSTEES OF INDIANA UNIVERSITY, Defendant-Appellee. ____________________ Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. No. 1:21-CV-238 DRL — Damon R. Leichty, Judge. ____________________ ARGUED JANUARY 11, 2022 — DECIDED JANUARY 25, 2022 ____________________ Before EASTERBROOK, SCUDDER, and KIRSCH, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM. Indiana University requires students and faculty to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. After the district court denied plainti s’ request for a preliminary injunction, we denied a motion for an injunction pending appeal. 7 F.4th 592 (7th Cir. 2021). Our opinion observed that, because seven of the eight plainti s qualify for the University’s exemption for students who represent that vaccination con icts with their religious beliefs, standing 2 No. 21-2326 depends on the eighth plainti , who does not assert that vaccination is religiously unacceptable. Id. at 593. Before the parties led their appellate briefs on the merits, the University asked us to dismiss the litigation as moot. The University told us that Natalie Sperazza, the sole plainti ineligible for a religious exemption, has withdrawn from the University. Plainti s replied that Sperazza has deferred her enrollment, not withdrawn, and that she plans to aaend if she can do so without being vaccinated. We accepted that representation and denied the University’s motion. The parties then led their briefs, which do not shake our con dence in the correctness of our earlier decision. But before reaching the merits we must revisit mootness. Because plans can change, and because the briefs do not discuss the plainti s’ current status, we asked at oral argument whether Sperazza still intends to aaend Indiana University if she can do so without vaccination. She promptly gave a negative answer. Her declaration says: “I have no plans to return as a student at Indiana University.” At the pre-brie ng stage, plainti s told us that the suit is justiciable for two reasons: Sperazza’s status (now altered) and the fact that all plainti s contest the requirement that unvaccinated students wear masks and be tested regularly for COVID-19. Their appellate brief ignores the mask-and-test requirement, however, so that aspect of the suit has been abandoned. Plainti s’ aaempt to revive this subject in a post-argument memorandum comes too late. Plainti s nonetheless ask us to treat this litigation as justiciable because the subject is capable of repetition but evading review. That contention is mistaken, for two reasons. No. 21-2326 3 First, the capable-of-repetition doctrine applies only if the dispute can recur between the same parties. See, e.g., Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95 (1983); Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147 (1975). Given the religious exemption enjoyed by seven plainti s, and the withdrawal of the eighth, these plainti s will not be aggrieved by the University’s vaccination requirement in the future. Second, only short-lived disputes evade review. See, e.g., Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 481–82 (1990); Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 399–400 (1975). This vaccination policy is not in that category. Indiana University requires many vaccinations, and none of the litigants suggests that SARS-CoV-2 is just a temporary addition to the list. College enrollment usually lasts four years, and some students go on to graduate education (one of the plainti s was a law student when the suit began). Challenges to other vaccination requirements have been resolved by the Supreme Court, see Biden v. Missouri, No. 21A240 (Jan. 13, 2022); National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, No. 21A244 (Jan. 13, 2022), even though those requirements were adopted after Indiana University’s. The problem in obtaining judicial review does not stem from an evanescent policy, whose application will be complete before a court can act. The obstacle to resolution of this suit is that the only plainti with standing withdrew from the University. The judgment of the district court is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss as moot.

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