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Even If Requiring People Who Have Recovered From COVID-19 To Be Vaccinated Is Legal, That Doesn't Mean It Makes Sense

Added 10-11-21 03:21:01pm EST - “The legal debate is obscuring a scientific debate.” - Reason.com


Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Reason.com: “Even If Requiring People Who Have Recovered From COVID-19 To Be Vaccinated Is Legal, That Doesn't Mean It Makes Sense”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Jacob Sullum | 10.11.2021 3:15 PM

A federal judge on Friday rejected a Michigan State University (MSU) employee's motion for a preliminary injunction against the school's requirement that staff members be vaccinated against COVID-19. Jeanna Norris, an administrator at the school, argued that her "naturally acquired immunity" made the mandate "unlawful" as applied to her and other staffers who have recovered from the disease. U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney concluded that, notwithstanding the scientific evidence that Norris cited to support her position, the public university's policy easily satisfied the "rational basis" test.

That standard of review is highly deferential, so it is not surprising that Norris, who is represented by the New Civil Liberties Coalition, did not get the injunction she wanted. Maloney notes that the Supreme Court applied what was essentially a rational basis test (although that term had not been invented yet) in the 1905 case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which involved a state-authorized requirement that Cambridge residents be inoculated against smallpox or pay a $5 fine (equivalent to about $155 today).

Maloney rejected Norris' argument that the vaccination requirement violates her fundamental rights to privacy and bodily integrity, which would have triggered strict scrutiny under the 14th Amendment, a much more demanding standard of review. "Plaintiff is absolutely correct that she possesses those rights, but there is no fundamental right to decline a vaccination," he writes. "She also does not have a constitutionally protected interest in her job at MSU, which Plaintiff's counsel conceded. The MSU vaccine policy does not force Plaintiff to forgo her rights to privacy and bodily autonomy, but if she chooses not to be vaccinated, she does not have the right to work at MSU at the same time."

That analysis suggests why similar legal challenges by people with naturally acquired COVID-19 immunity are unlikely to succeed in court. But it does not settle the question of whether mandates like MSU's, even if "rational" in the legal sense, are fair or reasonable in light of the scientific evidence.


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