At the turn of the 20th Century, Massachusetts was going through an outbreak of smallpox, and some of the citizens there were refusing to get the smallpox vaccine.
The city of Cambridge ordered adults to get the free vaccine or face a $5 fine. One objector, Henning Jacobson, took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided with the city.
Justice John Marshall Harlan authored the majority opinion in the 7-2 ruling in the Jacobson v. Massachusetts.
“In every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand,” Harlan wrote.
“Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own,” Harlan continued, “whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”
Wear a mask it is duty and the right thing to do.
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