CALawMama's Blog


Experiences at the interface of life, law, and motherhood in Cali

DDOCL: Daily Dose of Constitutional Law

Welcome to the first segment of Daily Dose of Con Law. Today I will be sharing a quotation from Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, at 523-55, 541, 543 (1961) (Harlan, J. dissenting), the corpus of which was later adopted by the Court in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 497 (1965):

Due Process guarantees are the “bulwarks…against arbitrary legislation…””

The balance between liberty and the demands of organized society must be considered as a, “rational continuum which, broadly speaking, includes a freedom from all substantial arbitrary impositions and purposeless restraints, and which also recognizes…that certain interests require particularly careful scrutiny of the state needs asserted to justify their abridgment.”

What does this mean? It means that compulsory vaccination laws, which operate to completely preclude the ability of individuals to decline such vaccines, are not simply a cut and dry area of the law. It is not simply a matter of, hey this sounds like a good idea! Rather, it is an issue of whether the state may properly completely preclude individual liberty entirely in the name of the greater good.

See also, Holland, Compulsory Vaccination, the Constitution, and the Hepatitis B Mandate for Infants and Young Children, Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, Volume 12 Issue 1

If you can’t see how this is not about vaccines yet, stay tuned for the next DDOCL.


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One Response

  1. Les says:

    ACLU states there must be compelling interest to withhold the constitutional right of education in CA. The claim for this bill is to maintain herd immunity. How can herd immunity be achieved when 30 million CA adults out of 39 million residents are not subject to compulsory vaccinations? In fact the list of those who have access to exemptions are huge. Adults – CA healthcare workers can decline vaccinations per Ca code, Title 8, 5199; CA public sector employees, union members and prison inmates can all decline vaccinations; employees can claim religious exemptions per EEOC, Title 7, Religious accommodation. Children – AB982 passed Assembly that will allow 500,000 homeless children religious exemptions; SB277 has been amended to allow exemptions for children with IEPs, family history of adverse reaction, or who currently have PBEs on file.

    So, out of 200,000 CA children that even choose to have PBEs, the actual number of students who will be required to have compulsory vaccinations in order to attend school will be a few thousand. Last school year, CA reported PBEs @ 26,000 in childcare; 13,000 in Kindergarten; 10,000 in 7th grade.

    SB277 appears to be discriminatory and violates Wong Wai v Williamson because it targets a very small group with compulsory vaccination while allowing exemptions to the vast majority of Californians. Furthermore, the actual number of children that SB277 targets is so small that the compelling interest to withhold public or private education for herd immunity simply won’t be achieved.

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