Jacobson vs. Massachusetts Case

Jacobsonvs. Massachusetts Case

Jacobsonvs. Massachusetts Case

Jacobsonv. Massachusetts(1905) case is a USA’s Supreme Court case between the Commonwealthof Massachusetts (Appellant) and Henning Jacobson (Appellee). TheAppellant argued that state laws permitting obligatory vaccinationand allocating authority to municipalities to decide when mandatoryvaccination was a requirement was lawful. The Appellee was a Swedishminister and immigrant in the USA residing in Cambridge. TheMassachusetts municipality ordered all adults to take a smallpoxvaccination in 1902 to control the epidemic. However, Jacobsondeclined complying with the order because the vaccine had allegedlymade his son, him and other people extremely sick. The state finedhim five dollars that he declined to pay. Instead, he sought theMassachusetts and the Supreme Judicial Court’s immunity, but theydismissed his assertion that mandatory immunization dishonored boththe US and the state constitution. Besides, the Supreme Court orderedthe appellee to pay the ordered fine for refusing to be immunized.Nonetheless, the court also upheld that if an individual could provethat he or she was unfit for immunization or the treatment mightcause serious side effects upon dispensation, he or she could beexempted from the program.

Jacobsonv. Massachusetts case was used in Zuchtv. King,(1922) case, where the appellee claimed that the case had decidedthat all children joining high school were subject to mandatoryimmunization. The Supreme Court confirmed the ordinance that schoolscould decline registering students who were not immunized againstairborne and other dangerous epidemic diseases that could risk thelives of other students. The case has also been used to supportSupreme Court verdicts on various subjects such as the police limitsand the scope of their power, judiciary’s power for reviewinglegislative actions and the Fourteenth Amendment privacy right.Similarly, the case inspired establishment of establishing “TheAnti-Vaccination League of America.” The organization cautionedpeople against allowing science and the government to meddle in theirprivate life.