to the editor from this week's Chronicle
To the Editor,
US Supreme Court Case:
Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)
A Sate May Enact Compulsory Vaccination Law
A state may enact a compulsory vaccination law, since the legislature has the discretion to decide whether vaccination is the best way to prevent smallpox and protect public health. The legislature may exempt children from the law without violating the equal protection rights of adults if the law applies equally among adults.
A Massachusetts law provided that the board of health of a city or town may require and enforce vaccination and revaccination of its inhabitants, while providing them with a way to get free vaccinations. The state imposed a $5 fine for people over 21 who violated this law, although it provided an exception for children with a doctor's certificate stating that they are not fit for vaccination. The city of Cambridge adopted a regulation requiring all of its inhabitants who were not vaccinated against smallpox in the last five years to be vaccinated or revaccinated. (This was based on the increasing presence of smallpox in the city.) A certain physician was authorized to enforce the vaccination policy. The plaintiff in this case was an individual over 21 who refused to comply with the vaccination requirement and then faced a criminal complaint. He was found guilty and fined, and the court ordered him held in custody until the fine was paid.
§ John Marshall Harlan (Author) (R)
§ Melville Weston Fuller (D)
§ Henry Billings Brown (R)
§ Edward Douglass White (D)
§ Joseph McKenna (R)
§ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (R)
§ William Rufus Day (R)
Harlan ruled that the vaccination law did not violate the 14th Amendment because the police power of the state may be allowed to constrain individual liberties through reasonable regulations when required to protect public safety. He reasoned that individual liberty does not allow people to take actions regardless of the harm that they could cause to others. Harlan felt that the plaintiff had failed to show that the vaccination law was arbitrary or oppressive, or not reasonably required for the safety of the public. He noted the increasing presence of smallpox, which prevented the plaintiff from convincingly asserting that the rule had no real or substantial relation to protecting public health and safety. Although the plaintiff presented evidence that some doctors believed that the smallpox vaccine was not effective and could cause further diseases, Harlan pointed out that the opposite view represents the common medical belief and is followed by more reputable doctors.
Although he largely deferred to the legislature, Harlan noted that requiring a vaccination for certain people with certain health conditions would be cruel and inhumane. This would justify a court in shielding them from the enforcement of the law. The Massachusetts law did not suggest that it would lead to this result, though, and the plaintiff did not show that he had a medical condition that made him unfit for vaccination.
§ David Josiah Brewer (Author) (R)
§ Rufus Wheeler Peckham (Author)(D)
Since Harlan sought to balance the police power of the state with individual liberties, later judges would refer to his opinion to support either side of the debate. The Supreme Court has continued to follow his reasoning. This case became more prominent during the COVID-19 era, when it has been used to support shelter-in-place orders and mask mandates. The Supreme Court also denied an injunction to plaintiffs who were seeking to block a vaccine mandate for health care workers in Maine.
I would hope that those individual’s pushing for Medical Freedom Of Choice would take their grievances out on the United States Supreme Court- rather than continuing to beat up on Public Health Officials and The Medical Professions that are just doing their job by trying to save lives and keep people safe. It’s disappointing to see the Chronicle continuing to publish misinformation about Covid 19 and Vaccinations by featuring repeated writers to the Newspaper.
Hood River, Oregon
No. 343 - 11/21/21
Attention all current and former readers of the Lewiston Morning Tribune! Recall if you will that interesting section called "A Blast From the Past!" In it the Tribune harks back more than 20 years or so to recall an event popular at the time, but forgotten as the years rolled by! Well, this RNR chooses to have its own Blast From the Past, by reprinting completely an article which appeared in the same Cottonwood Chronicle as do these RNR's. Only
this article appeared under the title LET FREEDOM RING, Sept 1, 1983, written then by myself each week during the five years from 1982 to about 1987. So give some thought to this RNR "Blast From the Past," and maybe ask how it might be related to what is going on in our country and the world today, and the topics which were being discussed then and are in our current news today! Directly quoted from that article:
" 'They have ears but hear not, and eyes but they see not.' So true this Biblical paraphrase has been over and over in history.
"And how full of wisdom this one little statement may well be today.
"We 20th century Americans have educational opportunity unmatched by any society past or present. Yet it could well be that we are blind to the things which go on around us, and are insensitive to the results which inevitably come.
"For example, the inflation which has hobbled us in the past and threatens us in the future is a predictable result of the money expansion and deficit-spending policies of our government the last 50 years. Yet we naively ignore the facts and desperately dream that the temporary lull in the inflation rate will continue into the distant tomorrow. It can't and it won't!
"Two weeks ago we quoted Alexander Solzhenitsyn form the June 23rd , 1983 'Wall Street Journal.' Quoted as follows: [The time when the West could save itself by its own exertion may already have passed. To save itself would require a complete change of attitudes, when in fact these attitudes are still going the wrong way. Instead of girding itself for struggle, the West is still hoping for outside forces to save it, through some kind of miracle...]
"We read what Solzhenitsyn says but we understand not. For what Solzhenitsyn is telling us today in 1983 is that America is losing the philosophical and moral struggle we are unknowingly engaged in with the forces of atheistic materialistic Communism, based in Soviet Russia. We not only seem unaware we are losing the war, but in fact don't realize there is even a battle. Yet the facts are, there is a relentless tug of war going on, if only we read and understand them.
"From a study of captured Communist documents , Cleon Skousen prepared a list of 'Current Communist Goals,' and included them in Ch. 12 of his book, THE NAKED COMMUNIST, which was written in 1961. (A few of these goals from the dozens listed in that book follow, and some of which are repeated from last week's RNR):
"1) Get control of the schools. 2) Infiltrate the press. 3)Eliminate the laws governing obscenity. 4) Eliminate prayer in school. 5) Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with 'social religion.' 6) Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce. 7) Permit free trade with all nations, regardless of whether or not items could be used in war. 8) Promote the U.N. as the only hope for peace. 9) Continue to discredit American culture by degrading all items of artistic expression. 10) Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old fashioned, and out of step with modern needs. 11) Discredit the American Founding Fathers."
"Interesting... Ears but hear not, eyes but see not.!"