The Law episode 82: Jacobson v. Massachusetts
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What is the extent of government authority to “protect” the common good during a public health crisis? Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court denied a California church’s request to stop the enforcement of certain public health rules that negatively affected the way the church conducted religious services. In doing so, the Court relied upon the 115 year old Jacobson case that upheld a mandatory smallpox vaccination. The language used by the Court in Jacobson is frightening: “The possession and enjoyment of all rights are subject to such reasonable conditions as may be deemed by the governing authority of the country essential to the safety, health, peace, good order, and morals of the community.” We discuss where that standard leads.