33 J.L. Med. & Ethics 24 (2005)
Plenary Program: Jacobson v. Massachusetts

handle is hein.journals/medeth33 and id is 896 raw text is: PLENARY SESSIONS

Plenary Program:
Yacobson v. Massachusetts
Wendy E. Parmet, Charity Scott, James G. Hodge, Jr.,
David E. Nahmias, Alfred DeMaria, Jr., Clifford M. Rees,
and Richard A. Goodman (Moderator)

2005 was the centennial of the U.S. Supreme Court's
1905 seminal ruling, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts,
that spoke to the balance between individual rights
and protection of the community from infectious dis-
eases and other serious health threats. The 2005
annual public health law conference featured a special
plenary program that examined the government's
authority to protect and promote the public's health as
discussed in that decision, through an exploration of
the scope and limits of the state's public health pow-
ers, including vaccination.
The program had three parts:
 First, Wendy E. Parmet, JD, Professor of Law at
the Northeastern University School of Law,
described the historical context for the ruling and
the facts of the case (which involved a citizen's
refusal to comply with state-mandated smallpox
vaccination), reviewed the principal elements of
the ruling, and commented on the enduring
importance the ruling has had for law as a public
health tool.
 Professor Parmet's presentation was followed by
two intentionally divergent commentaries on the
Jacobson ruling, one from the point of view of
Rev. Henning Jacobson, who objected to compul-
sory vaccination, and the other from the point of
view of the state of Massachusetts. The former
was presented by Charity Scott, JD, Professor of
Law at Georgia State University, and the latter by
James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM, Associate
Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School
of Public Health and Executive Director of the
Center for Law and the Public's Health.

 Finally, a panel discussed the Jacobson ruling and
its contemporary implications from three differ-
ing perspectives: David E. Nahmias, JD, U.S.
Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia;
Alfred DeMaria, Jr., MD, State Epidemiologist
for the Massachusetts Department of Public
Health; and Clifford Rees, JD, former legal coun-
sel to the New Mexico Department of Public
Health and, at the time of the session, legal coun-
sel to the New Mexico Department of Finance
and Administration.
 The session moderator was Richard A. Goodman,
MD, JD, MPH, Co-Director of the CDC Public
Health Law Program.
This program was rich and illuminating, reflecting the
faculty members' diverse professional experiences in
public health and law, and illuminated the broad ten-
sions that exist between government powers and indi-
vidual rights as well as specific aspects of that rela-
tionship in the context of public health practice and
The entire Jacobson v. Massachusetts program was
recorded and translated into an enduring educational
resource for use in schools of public health and law,
and for all who are interested in understanding the
significance of the case for public health, both in
1905 and today as well. The CD-ROM Jacobson v.
Massachusetts and Public Health Law: Perspectives in
2005 comprises the following suite of materials:
* The recorded, 90-minute program of June 14,
2006, including the full presentations of all six
faculty members, with slide presentations by
Professors Parmet, Scott, and Hodge


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