Opinion: The Supreme Court Ruled That States Can Mandate and Enforce Compulsory Vaccines

The current opposition and resistance to vaccines is a serious health hazard to society.

Although the so-called religious cult known as “anti-vaxxers” has existed for some time, what is occurring today in America is more than just a rejection of medical science by a cult of fools and charlatans. It is an honest-to-dog existential threat to the health and lives of tens-of-thousands of Americans, national security, and the country’s economic well being.

Vaccines, or if one prefers inoculations, have been a part of America since its founding. And one might add they were mandatory to protect the health of a nation.

Going back as far as back January 1777 when then-General George Washington ordered the inoculation of all members of his army, he said:

Necessity not only authorizes but seems to require the measure, for should the disorder [smallpox] infect the Army . . . we should have more to dread from it, than from the Sword of the Enemy.” 

Today all branches of the military “inoculate” its members upon enlistment, and depending on where members are deployed around the globe, the members may be inoculated again for diseases unique to a particular geographical location.

Throughout the United States, all public school districts require a vaccination record prior to enrolling a student. It is interesting that in many Republican-dominated states that reject the notion of requiring its students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, there is no opposition to requiring vaccinations for many other life-threatening diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella etc.

There is a movement today in some Republican states to create or pass legislation banning both coronavirus vaccine mandates and passports. In Montana, where legislation already passed, the Republicans claim it is a violation of a person’s civil rights to require proof of vaccination. In many other “red” states Republicans claim state, federal, and private industry may not require an employee show proof of being vaccinated against COVID-19 because it violates discrimination statutes.

It is noteworthy to mention that over the past 60 years Republicans have fought tooth and nail to strike down any and all anti-discrimination laws until now. However, their efforts are futile because there is a Supreme Court precedent allowing any state to “enforce compulsory vaccination laws” regardless of anyone’s claim of individual or religious liberty protections.

In the 1905 Supreme Court case, 197 U.S., Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the High Court upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. The Court’s decision articulated the view that individual liberty is not absolute and is subject to the police power of the state.

Recognizing that public health is more important than an individual’s personal liberty, the High Court held that:

In every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand. Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own liberty, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

So there it is. In this particular instance the refusal to be vaccinated, or wear a mask, or socially distance, or not congregate in large groups entails endangering tens-of-thousands of American lives. There is no personal liberty or religious exemption allowed if that claim of liberty presents a real public health threat.

Although there are no laws thus far mandating compulsory vaccinations, for the sake of the health and safety of the population it is time for federal and state authorities to begin creating and  enacting laws mandating that every citizen be vaccinated. The health of the nation depends on it and the Supreme Court has ruled it is legal.