Does the Supreme Court Ruling of 1905’s case Jacobson v Massachusetts Give Government the Power to Mandate Vaccination?
Let’s examine the matter: On February 20, 1905, the Supreme Court, by a 7-2 majority, said in Jacobson v. Massachusetts that the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts could fine residents who refused to receive smallpox injections… Massachusetts reacted by requiring all adults receive smallpox inoculations subject to a $5 fine. In 1902, Pastor Henning Jacobson, suggesting that he and his son both were injured by previous vaccines, refused to be vaccinated and to pay the fine…. On February 20, 1905, the Supreme Court rejected Jacobson’s arguments.
Jacobson had argued that the Massachusetts law requiring mandatory vaccination was a violation of due process under the 14th Amendment, particularly the right “to live and work where he will” under the precedent of Allgeyer v. Louisiana (1897), a case that found that a state law preventing certain out-of-state insurance corporations from conducting business in the state was unconstitutional restriction of freedom of contract under the 14th Amendment. Harlan answered that while the Court had protected such liberty, a citizen:
“May be compelled, by force if need be, against his will and without regard to his personal wishes or his pecuniary interests, or even his religious or political convictions, to take his place in the ranks of the army of his country and risk the chance of being shot down in its defense. It is not, therefore, true that the power of the public to guard itself against imminent danger depends in every case involving the control of one’s body upon his willingness to submit to reasonable regulations established by the constituted authorities, under the sanction of the State, for the purpose of protecting the public collectively against such danger.”
The Court did not extend the rule beyond the facts of the case before it. Harlan ended his opinion by stating the limitations of the ruling: “We are not inclined to hold that the statute establishes the absolute rule that an adult must be vaccinated if it be apparent or can be shown with reasonable certainty that he is not at the time a fit subject of vaccination or that vaccination, by reason of his then condition, would seriously impair his health or probably cause his death.
In the years following the case, the anti-vaccine movement mobilized and the Anti-Vaccination League of America was founded three years later in Philadelphia under the principle that “health is nature’s greatest safeguard against disease and that therefore no State has the right to demand of anyone the impairment of his or her health,” and aimed “to abolish oppressive medical laws and counteract the growing tendency to enlarge the scope of state medicine at the expense of the freedom of the individual.” The League warned about what it believed to be the dangers of vaccination and allowing the intrusion of government and science into private life.
In conclusion, this ‘law’ at its root is unconstitutional. This is a reappearing case with pro-vaccine people that try to justify the mandated vaccination of everyone. This is a case that seems to be used over and over again to claim we have no constitutional rights insofar as our bodily freedom. The fact is, the 1905 ‘law’ is unconstitutional, and should never be followed, period.