This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Mandatory Vaccination In The United States: A Past And Present Examination Of Jacobson V Massachusetts

1350 words - 6 pages

There is no doubt that vaccination has been one of the greatest successes of public health programs in the 20th century. Vaccinations have eradicated naturally occurring smallpox, and have substantially reduced morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases that previously ravaged the population, such as polio and measles. Despite the successes, there has been a history of “anti-vaccinationists” in the U.S., who among other challenges, argued compulsory vaccination was an infringement upon personal liberty and their right to choice (1, 2). In fact, it took a Supreme Court decision to ultimately assert whether a state mandating vaccination infringed upon the U.S. Constitution.

Compulsory vaccination in the U.S. was established in the federal Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which ruled that the common good allowed a state to require vaccination (3). This 1905 landmark decision held that the common good – defined as safety and health – could override personal liberty in the matter of vaccination laws (3).

Henning Jacobson, a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, refused smallpox vaccination required by a recently enacted regulation of the city, and was assessed a $5 fine (roughly $125 in today’s currency). Mr. Jacobson refused on the grounds the vaccination caused harm and violated his personal liberties granted by the U.S. Constitution, citing the Preamble and the 14th amendment; namely, Section 1 of the 14th amendment, which states “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (4).

The case progressed from the local court to the state supreme court, each time being upheld as constitutional, and consequently, Mr. Jacobson was in violation of the law and required to pay the original $5 fine. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and address the question, “[is the state’s] statute, so construed, therefore, inconsistent with the liberty which the Constitution of the United States secures to every person against deprivation by the state” (3). In other words, the Court examined the notion of a state’s police powers, the extent, and enforceability of such. In a 7 to 2 court decision, the Justices ruled that the safety and health of the citizens of Massachusetts were superior to the individual right, and by extension, compulsory vaccination is constitutional both within the Massachusetts and U.S. constitutions.

Over one hundred years removed from this decision, this case is still discussed and analyzed in scholarly works, indicating the sustained relevance of the tensions and conflicts. The U.S. Supreme Court cited this case 69 times through 2004 (5). In addition to granting compulsory vaccination at the state level, Jacobson v. Massachusetts has been used to justify public health initiatives ranging from quarantine of diseased individuals...

Find Another Essay On Mandatory Vaccination in the United States: A Past and Present Examination of Jacobson v Massachusetts

Past, Present, and Future: An Examination of the Hood and Historical Films

1793 words - 7 pages “past, present, and the unborn” which she forces the audience to see African-American history (Brouwer 9, 6); with Daughters (1991), Dash addresses African-American marginalization, slavery and cultural imperialism (Brouwer 6). Dash’s message of the film was to understand the negativity of the current world; in one scene of Daughters (1991), Nana refuses to accept the family migration to the North because the migration will lose the sense of old

Violations in the Rulings of Schneck v. United States

1047 words - 5 pages The Schenck case in the early 1900s dealt with the freedom of speech as it related to the draft of World War I. Charles Schenck sent mass mail that stated “the draft was a monstrous wrong motivated by the capitalist system” (Schenck v. United States). The federal government found this to be in violation of the Clear and Present Danger Test as well as the Espionage Act and arrested Schenck for his actions. The case proceeded to the Supreme Court

Past and Current Trends of Drug Use in the United States

731 words - 3 pages Drug use in the United States has always been an issue, more so now than ever before. The abuse of prescription drugs by users of every age group is increasing at an alarming rate. The implications of drug use are a public health problem that affects society on many levels. Alcohol, once an illegal substance, is now an accepted, if not expected, drug in the American culture. This paper will discuss the past and current trends of drug use and how

Past and Current Trends of Drug Abuse in the United States

693 words - 3 pages Past and Current Trends of Drug Abuse in the United States      Drug abuse has changed over the years due to the trends that Americans face from the encouragement of different cultures. The abuse of substances creates many health problems. The following will discuss the past and current trends of drug use and the effects these drugs have on the health of the individuals who abuse the drugs.      The use of cocaine in the United States has


2148 words - 9 pages The United States Constitution states “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (Quoted from a transcript of the US Constitution).The main purpose of the U.S

Comparing Virginia and Massachusetts - Blinn College United States History - Essay

794 words - 4 pages population just in the first few years of settlement (Brandt). Virginia’s population includes many children, many single parents, and many marriages. Many swamps were present there which created many diseases in the water, leading to death. Many starved to death, from a lack of food and supplies. Having diseases in Plymouth, many children starved and died from various diseases. Having these complications was nothing the crewmen knew they were

An Examination of the United States' CARSI Policy

2041 words - 9 pages There is no question that the economies of the United States of America and the countries of Central and South America are profoundly interconnected. The implications of this economic relationship are multifaceted and the correlations are not always obvious. However, in the case of citizen security in Central America it is clear that the present issues can be traced to the interconnected economies of the United States and Latin America. Located

The Effects that Affirmative Action Has Had on Past and Future Endeavors of Minorities in the United States

2842 words - 11 pages The African American experience in the United States is one that could almost be described as irreparable. The African American debut in this country was one that started off as foul as a situation could be. The slavery experience ranks amongst some of the most inhumane eras in the history of mankind. The settlers in the colonies viewed Africans as only 3/5ths of a man and used Africans as tools, or pets, as opposed to acknowledging them as

Ohio V. United States

627 words - 3 pages compelling the accused to be a witness against himself.” Then, the court reasoned that the search was unreasonable “ab initio” and it makes it a violation of the fourth amendment. Justice Black mentioned in his concurrence that if something is obtained illegally, it cannot be used again the appellant. The Boyd’s case was not the only case mentioned in the Mapp v. Ohio opinion. Additionally, Weeks v. United States (1914) was a case that

Korematsu v. United States

1257 words - 6 pages In the landmark case of Korematsu v. United States the Supreme Court was correct in the ruling because the executive order that was issued became a law to protect the country from persons that had close ethnic ties to the enemy and made all people that the government deemed a threat to national security into prisoners. Although this was against moral standards, it was a necessity at the time to protect the country. While it may seem that it

Korematsu V. United States

1016 words - 4 pages the idea that the US Government cannot take away your freedoms is unconstitutional. The US Government can commit this act because it deals with national security.Which was helped decided by a previous case of Hirabayashi v United States which was based off of racial discrimination. National Security is the outlet or "loop hole" that allows the Government to act in a certain way that would be deemed unconstitutional and in violation of the 5th

Similar Essays

Mandatory Vaccination In The United States

911 words - 4 pages The ethics of federal mandatory vaccination in the United States can be determined through the following case-study. Description of case study: In 2003, President George W. Bush put forward a plan to vaccinate 450,000 public health-care workers (including military personnel, health care workers, and first-responders) against smallpox in case of a bioterrorist attack on the United States. The plan was ultimately unsuccessful because only 4,213 of

Examination Of Leadership Theories Past And Present

1447 words - 6 pages , successful as indirect leaders, and direct reports under these leaders were stronger performers (Bateman & Snell, 2007). With all the corruption we have seen in the past, transformational approach principles and practices should be on the forefront of board of directors when hiring chief executive officers. It should be noted that if a leader fails to score high in this area that the likely hood of that leader would not be an asset to the company

My Past, Present & Future Self In Hyderabad And The United States

1237 words - 5 pages their children. In this paper, I will be shedding some light on my past and present experiences. I will also be writing about the things I want to pursue and achieve in the future. I will be giving references from the course books as needed. Most households in India are comprised of at least two families living as a joint family. My joint family consisted of my paternal grandparents, aunts and uncles along with my immediate family

Jacobson Vs. United States Supreme Court

801 words - 4 pages were raised in the early 1990's as this case was underway. The topics were very personal, therefore also making a notable Supreme Court Case as the undercover police actions that brought Jacobson to his conviction - could also unknowingly happen to anyone else.Sources:Chin, Gabriel J., "The Story of Jacobson v United States: Catching Criminals or Creating Crime?" Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 06-12 Available at SSRN: