Rediscovering Jacobson in the Era of COVID-19
100 B.U. L. Rev. Online 117 (2020)
18 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2020 Last revised: 29 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 28, 2020
As courts continue to hear constitutional challenges to COVID-related orders, citations to the Supreme Court’s 1905 decision, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, have been proliferating. This essay re-examines Justice Harlan’s nuanced and ambiguous opinion in Jacobson, situating in in its epidemiological and jurisprudential context. The essay also looks at Jacobson’s complex legacy, and how judges, including Chief Justice Roberts in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, have been applying Jacobson as they review COVID-19 social distancing orders.
Keywords: COVID-19, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, pandemic, rights
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