Compulsory Vaccination Laws are Constitutional

29 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2017

See all articles by Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Michele Goodwin

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: August 4, 2015

Abstract

In this Article, we focus on the constitutional issues concerning compulsory vaccination laws. Our position is that every state should require compulsory vaccination of all children, unless there is a medical reason why the child should not be vaccinated. In other words, there should be no exception to the compulsory vaccination requirement on account of the parents’ religion, philosophy, or conscience or for any reason other than medical necessity. Simply put, the government’s interest in protecting children and the preventing the spread of communicable disease justifies mandatory vaccinations for all children in the United States. We expound on these ideas in three parts. In Part I of this Article, we briefly describe the history of compulsory vaccination laws in the United States. Part II explains why such laws are desirable and why every state should require compulsory vaccination with only a medical exception. Finally, Part III looks at the possible constitutional objections based on free exercise of religion and the right of parents to control the upbringing of their children. We conclude that these arguments are not a basis for invalidating compulsory vaccination laws.

Suggested Citation

Chemerinsky, Erwin and Goodwin, Michele, Compulsory Vaccination Laws are Constitutional (August 4, 2015). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 110, No.3, 2015/16, pp.589-616; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-71. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2639904

Erwin Chemerinsky

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

HOME PAGE: https://www.law.berkeley.edu/our-faculty/faculty-profiles/erwin-chemerinsky/

Michele Goodwin (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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