Republican lawmakers have continued to embrace skepticism regarding the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, which have proven safe and effective at minimizing the spread and severity of the virus that's killed over 800 thousand Americans.
A key criticism has been against vaccine mandates, which Republicans have near-unanimously decried as a federal encroachment on individual rights or an insidious exercise in state control. This is despite mandatory vaccinations existing in some form in the United States for more than a century. As a general, George Washington required his troops be vaccinated against smallpox. Every U.S. state still requires vaccinations against polio for students—part of a wide array of mandatory vaccinations.
Nevertheless, Republican Senator Ted Cruz railed against mandatory vaccines for students in a recent tweet.
Cruz asserted that schools "have no right to FORCE you to get your 5-year-old vaccinated," but a 1905 Supreme Court ruling heavily disagreed.
In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court decided that state governments could enforce laws to protect public health, even at the expense of certain individual rights. The Court ruled that smallpox vaccine mandates in schools—and criminal fines for those not in compliance—were constitutional. That ruling has repeatedly been upheld in the decades since it was handed down.
Cruz,—a former Supreme Court clerk, solicitor general, and onetime contender for a seat on the Supreme Court itself—almost certainly knows this.
But just in case, people didn't hesitate to correct him.
The claim received widespread backlash.
Cruz is currently promising a bill that would throw out the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for D.C. schools.