Right to Harm Fellow Citizens

Vaccine Mandates

You do not have a constitutional right to harm other citizens. You do not have a constitutional right to a specific job or employment.

In 1777, during the Revolutionary War, George Washington ordered immunizations against deadly smallpox. The number of smallpox cases decreased–saving his army. The immunization mandate saved the war effort.

A pastor took his religious opposition to the smallpox vaccine to the Supreme Court in 1905, but lost in a famous decision.  Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905) upheld the authority of states to mandate vaccinations for the public safety. Justice John Marshall Harlan explained that the Constitution did not allow Americans always to behave however they chose.

“Real liberty for all could not exist,” Harlan wrote in his majority opinion, if people could act “regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

The Court has repeatedly decided individual liberty is not absolute. One person’s right to a healthy life is greater than another person’s right to a specific job. Citizens do not have the right to harm their colleagues or their colleagues’ families, friends and communities. The benefits of reducing the spread of a deadly virus and lowering the chances it will mutate dangerously in the future are large.

Mask Mandates

Dr. Brannon Traxler of DHEC continues to recommend masks and to get vaccination as soon as possible. Dr. Traxler explained:

“Masks and vaccines are safe and effect. They can keep our kids and teachers safe in schools.” 

DHEC is working with providers to make house calls to vaccinate people who can’t leave. They also have mobile clinics. They continue outreach efforts and do PSAs, radio ads, billboards, and more. Please be safe.