Skip to main content


Child.’s Health Def., Inc. v. Rutgers, 2024 U.S. App. LEXIS 3560 (3rd Cir. February 15, 2024) (Krause, C.J.).

Students challenge vaccine mandate. Without the vaccination, students were not allowed to return to Rutgers. There were exemptions to the mandate. Those exemptions included students with bona fide religious belief or practices. But even they had certain restraints. The mandate was challenged on a number of grounds, including preemption under the Federal Emergency Use Authorization Statute; lack of authorization under New Jersey law; violation of substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment; and violation of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment for unequal treatment. The court granted the motion to dismiss. The court also looked at standing.

The court found that there was standing. The court affirmed dismissal of the student’s preemption claim. The federal statute does not impose any obligations on state universities. It cannot conflict with Rutgers policy. The court found no violation of substantive due process or equal protection. There is no fundamental right to refuse vaccination. In short, there is no fundamental right to refuse vaccination, nor any unconstitutional condition implicated here. The court applied the rational basis review to Rutgers policy, as it has with other universities. Rutgers set forth a satisfactory, rational explanation for its policy, which is all it is obligated to do. The policy is considered rational. Equal protection is not an issue. The court discussed proper standard of review for equal protection and notes that the student’s claims do not involve fundamental right. The differential treatment of vaccinated students and unvaccinated students with “natural immunity” was dismissed. Rutgers set forth a rational basis for its different treatment not only of students and staff, but also of vaccinated and unvaccinated students with “natural immunity”. Judgment of district court affirmed. Concurred in part by Jordan. Jordan concurred in part and dissented in part.