Would a federal vaccine mandate violate the rights of the states, or would it be within the scope of the federal government.
To address part of the question, here is a note from the Congressional Research Service, dated 2021-04-02:
From the conclusion:
As discussed above, whether the federal government has existing statutory authority to mandate vaccination in the context of COVID-19 is subject to debate. Thus, inasmuch as Congress determines that a federal vaccination mandate may be necessary to address the pandemic, legislative action may be required to implement such a mandate.
A couple points of context:
- The document linked above examines the question if the Executive branch has already existing authority.
- It does not address the deeper constitutional question of Congressional authority vs that of States.
- While the CRS note obviously implies that Congress has the authority to legislate here, in my opinion, that's just a routine presumption at this stage of the process -- giving oneself the benefit of the doubt. The possibility of a legal challenge should be assumed.
There is nothing in the constitution that says they can or can't mandate vaccinations and in fact there is already a supreme court ruling on this issue. In 1904 the court heard a case about the state of Massachusetts having a law requiring residents to be vaccinated against smallpox or face a $5 fine. In 1905 they ruled it was constitutional and upheld the law. It appears to have been decided in a 7-2 ruling.
In the end if they did something like this it would be challenged and we would get an answer from the supreme court.
In 1905 the Supreme Court addressed mandatory vaccinations in regard to smallpox in Jacobson v Massachusetts . There the Court ruled that the police power of a state absolutely included reasonable regulations established by legislature to protect public health and safety . Such regulations do not violate the 14th Amendment right to liberty because they fall within the many restraints to which every person is necessarily subjected for the common good . Real liberty for all cannot exist if each individual is allowed to act without regard to the injury that his or her actions might cause others; liberty is constrained by law. The Court went on to determine in Jacobson that a state may require vaccination if the board of health deems it necessary for public health or safety .
A Massachusetts law allowed cities to require residents to be vaccinated against smallpox. Cambridge adopted such an ordinance, with some exceptions. Jacobson refused to comply with the requirement and was fined five dollars.
The Court held that the law was a legitimate exercise of the state's police power to protect the public health and safety of its citizens. Local boards of health determined when mandatory vaccinations were needed, thus making the requirement neither unreasonable nor arbitrarily imposed.
There is also the fact that many states have mandated vaccine programs that impact younger children and their ability to go to school or day care.
Yes, via the power to regulate interstate commerce.
The coronavirus and its spread affect interstate commerce, and the US Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. This would allow them to mandate a nationwide vaccination campaign, since vaccinations would prevent the interstate spread of the coronavirus through interstate commerce, and coronavirus lockdowns also affect interstate commerce (and thus any efforts to fight the coronavirus should also be covered).
There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the US government any authority to directly mandate vaccinations.
However, there are things that they may be able to do to put pressure on those who do not with to receive vaccinations. For example, the Secretary of State could change the rules on the issuing of a passport to deny one to those who have not been vaccinated, if he wished to do so.
Mandatory medical treatment is forbidden by the deontological code. Although legally it is not binding for the government practically it could trigger a wave of appeals in any possible legal branch.
Another question is whether someone would really want to do anything such. After all the principle of required consent was proposed by the US after they saw what happened in the Nazist concentration camps. Could really the country that created the Nuremberg Code Revert to a Nazist mindset?