“A community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members,” wrote Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, writing for the 7 to 2 majority in the 1905 case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts. Massachusetts was one of eleven states that had compulsory vaccination laws. “The liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis organized society could not exist with safety to its members…This court has more than once recognized it as a fundamental principle that persons and property are subjected to all kinds of restraints and burdens in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the state.”

Two years later, in 1907, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, again by a vote of 7 to 2, in the 1907 case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 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.”

Mark Berg is a community activist in Adams County and a proud Liberal. His email address is MABerg175@Comcast.net.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.