The Case for Vaccine Mandates (Paperback)
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In The Case for Vaccine Mandates, Alan Dershowitz—New York Times bestselling author and one of America’s most respected legal scholars—makes an argument, against the backdrop of ideologically driven and politicized objections, for mandating (with medical exceptions) vaccinations as a last resort, if proved necessary to prevent the spread of COVID.
Alan Dershowitz has been called “one of the most prominent and consistent defenders of civil liberties in America” by Politico and “the nation’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer and one of its most distinguished defenders of individual rights” by Newsweek. He is also a fair-minded and even-handed expert on civil liberties and constitutional rights, and in this book offers his knowledge and insight to help readers understand how mandated vaccination and compulsion to wearing masks should and would be upheld in the courts.
The Case for Vaccine Mandates offers a straightforward analytical perspective: If a vaccine significantly reduces the threat of spreading a serious and potentially deadly disease without significant risks to those taking the vaccine, the case for governmental compulsion grows stronger. If a vaccine only reduces the risk and seriousness of COVID to the vaccinated person but does little to prevent the spread or seriousness to others, the case is weaker. Dershowitz addresses these and the issue of masking through a libertarian approach derived from John Stuart Mill, the English philosopher and political economist whose doctrine he summarizes as, “your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” Dershowitz further explores the subject of mandates by looking to what he describes as the only Supreme Court decision that is directly on point to this issue; decided in 1905, Jacobson v. Massachusetts involved a Cambridge ordinance mandating vaccination against smallpox and a fine for anyone who refused.
In the end, The Case for Vaccine Mandates represents an icon in American law and due process reckoning with what unfortunately has become a reflection of our dangerously divisive age, where even a pandemic and the responses to it, divide us along partisan and ideological lines. It is essential reading for anyone interested in a non-partisan, civil liberties, and constitutional analysis.
About the Author
Alan Dershowitz is one of the most celebrated lawyers in the world. He was the youngest full professor in Harvard Law School history, where he is now the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus. The author of numerous bestselling books, from Chutzpah to Guilt by Accusation to The Case Against Impeaching Trump to The Best Defense to Reversal of Fortune (which was made into an Academy Award–winning film) to Defending Israel, Dershowitz has advised presidents and prime ministers and has represented many prominent men and women, half of them pro bono.
"Alan has a truly brilliant mind, manifest not only in his knowledge of the law, but also in his unique approach to framing issues and crafting arguments, processes that so often have enabled a proper decision or a most reasoned point of view. Love him or hate him, but listen very carefully to what he has to say. You will always learn something of importance."
—Richard C. Mulligan, Mallinckrodt professor emeritus of genetics, Harvard Medical School; visiting scientist, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Life or liberty? One person wants the freedom not to be vaccinated—but at the expense of the life of another? What does equality mean, when access to health care, comorbidities, and ICU beds have never been distributed equally. Who decides who gets what, when, where, and how—when life and liberty are at stake? Whose life gets saved? For over fifty years, Alan Dershowitz has taken on the toughest constitutional issues of our time. Before ‘politically incorrect’ was a slogan, there was Alan. Of course, he’s still at it, tougher, sharper, and more provocative than ever.”
—Susan Estrich, professor of law and political science.
“Professor Dershowitz is one of the most influential civil libertarians of our time. He is also renowned and respected for his brave contrarian perspectives. This book’s advocacy for vaccine mandates is essential reading for all, regardless of your political leanings.”
—Dean Hashimoto, MD, oversees the Workplace Health and Wellness division at Mass General Brigham and is the author of The Case for Masks.
“In an era in which many arguments sound like ‘I’m right, you’re evil,’ legal scholar Alan Dershowitz makes his case without demonizing or dehumanizing those with whom he disagrees. Regardless of what you think about government vaccine mandates, this is the only way to engage in a truly liberal conversation.”
—Pamela Paresky, PhD, author of A Year of Kindness
“The advent of the coronavirus pandemic has faced our society with more difficult questions, and more controversy, than arose during earlier pandemics and epidemics. Opposition to vaccination has arisen within political, religious, and even scientific circles. Alan Dershowitz has tapped into his wide experience as a constitutional scholar and public advocate in order to analyze the issues fairly, often ingeniously. He comes down on the side of compulsory vaccination, (with exceptions as a last resort), but he does so in a manner that should convince even the most diehard skeptic.”
—Harvey A. Silverglate, civil liberties and criminal defense lawyer and author of Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent
“Vaccines protect the individual and the community from infectious diseases. Vaccines can decrease transmission in the community and prevent the overburdening of the healthcare systems (e.g., taking up ICU beds). Vaccine mandates have played a major role in minimizing the burden of many infectious diseases. This book provides strong support for vaccine mandates in protecting communities, particularly from a legal point of view.”
—Kathryn Edwards, Walter Orenstein, David Stephens, authors of The Covid-19 Vaccine Guide
“Alan Dershowitz makes a strong case for vaccine mandates. While it may seem ironic that a long-time civil liberties lawyer would advocate for such mandates, he demonstrates that mandates actually further civil liberties by protecting the most vulnerable in society from potentially life-threatening illness and protecting the rights of the rest of us to function freely in society. He persuasively argues that one’s right to refuse a vaccine cannot trump the right to life and the freedom of movement and association—rights and freedoms that are now being compromised by the preventable spread of COVID-19.”
—Dan Kovalik, human rights and labor lawyer and author of Cancel This Book: The Progressive Case Against Cancel Culture