By Cornell Clayton professor of Political Science & Director of Foley Institute
“My body, my choice!”
A refrain from the abortion-rights movement is now the battle cry of those insisting there’s a right against wearing masks or being vaccinated during a pandemic.
A Kentucky Congressman, Thomas Massie, recently tweeted: “There is no authority in the Constitution that authorizes the government to stick a needle in you against your will, force you to wear a face mask, or track your daily movements.”
In Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), the court upheld a compulsory smallpox vaccination law against the claim it violated “the inherent right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such way as to him seems best.” Such a right, the court said, must give way to “the power of a local community to protect itself against an epidemic threatening the safety of all.”