Letters to the editor — Sept. 22, 2021

Consider the constitution, history

The Sequim City Council is uninformed about the constitutionality of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates. They are also uninformed about vaccination history. I wish I could say that I am surprised, but I am not.

First, the constitution. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), the Supreme Court ruled that a state can mandate vaccines, and accompany those vaccine mandates with a criminal fine for those not in compliance. More broadly, the court ruled that the state can impose “reasonable regulations” to protect the public health, even when such regulations interfere with individual rights.

This completely puts to bed anyone’s belief that vaccine mandates and other requirements are not constitutional.

Second, history. George Washington ordered that the soldiers at Valley Forge to be vaccinated against smallpox. Hopefully, the city council will not attempt to assert that George Washington is un-American.

Another point, both historical and constitution, is that every state requires children to be vaccinated for many diseases and requires proof of vaccination before children can go to school (for Washington state, see WAC 246-105-030).

The Sequim City Council should support any and all efforts to ensure the safety and health of Sequim residents and visitors. Instead, it seeks to undermine those efforts with foolish and ignorant assertions.

Severne Johnson


Consider court’s decision on vaccine mandate

In the early years of the last century, smallpox was spreading uncontrolled. Massachusetts, one of 11 states with laws that allowed mandates, ordered vaccinations to stop the deadly pandemic. Pastor Henning Jacobson sued, arguing that the mandate violated his personal freedom.

It went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1905, the high court handed down a 7-2 landmark ruling, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, that emergency medical mandates are constitutional. Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote that “in every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members, the rights of the individual….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 added that “real liberty for all could not exist” if each individual is allowed “to use his own liberty….regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

Jacobson v. Massachusetts has been legal precedent ever since. In Zucht v. King (1922), the high court ruled that schools could refuse admission to students who refuse to provide proof of vaccinations.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, courts have cited Jacobson to uphold mask mandates and “stay-at-home” orders.

Sequim councilman Keith Larkin, joined by council members Armacost, Kincaid and Pence approved a resolution stating “strong support” of false claims that mandates are “unconstitutional.” They are wrong.

Council members Rachel Anderson, Brandon Janisse and Tom Ferrell voted “No!” We should vote in November for Anderson, Janisse, and challengers Lowell Rathbun, Vicki Lowe and Kathy Downer. They uphold the Constitution, medical science and sanity.

Tim Wheeler


Wheeler is acting chair for Voices for Health & Healing.

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