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Jacobson v. Massachusetts

Significance, Compulsory Vaccination Lawful, Court Defers To Legislature, Exemption For Unfit Adult?, Impact


Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Henning Jacobson

Appellant's Claim

That a state statute authorizing compulsory vaccination and delegating to a municipality the authority to determine when compulsory vaccination was necessary was constitutional.

Chief Lawyers for Appellant

George Fred Williams and James A. Halloran

Chief Lawyers for Appellee

Frederick H. Nash and Herbert Parker

Justices for the Court

Henry Billings Brown, William Rufus Day, Melville Weston Fuller, John Marshall Harlan II (writing for the Court), Oliver Wendell Holmes, Joseph McKenna, Edward Douglass White

Justices Dissenting

David Josiah Brewer, Rufus Wheeler Peckham


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

20 February 1905


Upheld the constitutionality of the statute, and affirmed defendant's conviction and fine for refusing to be vaccinated.

Related Cases

  • Zucht v. King, 260 U.S. 174 (1922).
  • Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927).
  • Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944).
  • Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965).
  • Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).
  • Cruzan v. Director, MDH, 497 U.S. 261 (1990).
  • Washington v. Glucksberg, 512 U.S. 702 (1997).


Centers for Disease Control (CDC). http://www.cdc.gov

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917