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All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The 14th Amendment

Harvard Law School emeritus professor and constitutional scholar, Alan Dershowitz, argued recently that the U.S. constitution, does not give citizens the right to spread a contagious disease or to refuse getting vaccinated by the government, in order to prevent the spread of said contagious disease.

Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz argues there’s no constitutional right not to get vaccinated

The comments, made in a Crowdsource the Truth interview which was posted on YouTube over the weekend; are thought provoking enough in a vacuum. But the fact they were made in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, where more and more Americans are protesting stay at home orders; and fighting to get back to work; makes them particularly poignant and relevant to the continued raging debate over personal freedoms against government power.

Speaking of great debates: the vaccine debate has raged on for years. That’s nothing new. However, what is intriguing about Dershowitz’ argument, is the rights aspect. Does a U.S. citizen have the right to refuse vaccination for a contagious disease? And more to the point of the relevance of what Dershowitz has brought up; it fits right into the coronavirus brouhaha that’s been brewing over the last few months and is slowly reaching a boiling point: if it’s not already there.

“Let me put it very clearly,” Dershowitz began. “You have no constitutional right to endanger the public and spread the disease, even if you disagree. You have no right not to be vaccinated, you have no right not to wear a mask, you have no right to open up your business,” he said. Adding that if the government wants you to get vaccinated then “Absolutely,” you have to get vaccinated. “And if you refuse to be vaccinated,” he added; “the state has the power to literally take you to a doctor’s office and plunge a needle into your arm.”

When Dershowitz was asked for constitutional evidence for his argument, he replied: “You have no right to refuse to be vaccinated against a contagious disease. Public health, the police power of the Constitution gives the state the power to compel that. And there are cases in the United States Supreme Court.” he said; adding that there are “cases after cases after cases” in which courts have ruled in favor of “reasonable actions to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.”

To the question: what about the 14th Amendment, Dershowitz argues that such a demand: to get vaccinated to help stymie the spread of a communicable disease, does not contradict the Amendment.

As reported by WND, “Dershowitz points to the Supreme Court’s Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision in 1905, which concluded a state may require vaccination if the board of health deems it necessary for public health or safety. The court found the police power of a state included reasonable regulations established by the legislature to protect public health and safety. The regulations didn’t violate the 14th Amendment right to liberty, the court said, because they fell within the restraints to which everyone is subject for the common good.”

It will be interesting to see how this argument shapes the coronavirus debate moving forward.


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