News Story

ACLU Flip-Flops On Vaccine Mandates

Civil liberties group opposed mandates before the current politicized epidemic

The American Civil Liberties Union has reversed its position on mandating vaccines during a pandemic.

This month the ACLU said, “Far from compromising civil liberties, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties.”

In 2008, the ACLU opposed vaccine mandates in an epidemic:

“Also, while it is likely that almost everyone will want, and even demand, access to vaccine— the right to refuse to be vaccinated should be honored,” the organization stated in a 2008 report. “No one should be forced to be vaccinated against their will both because of the constitutional right to refuse treatment, and pragmatically because forced vaccination will deter at least some people from seeking medical help when they need it.”

The 2008 report from the civil liberties group added: “Nonetheless it is worth emphasizing to public officials that the Supreme Court has ruled that competent individuals have a right to refuse any medical treatment, including life-sustaining treatment, and this includes vaccinations. Experimental vaccines can likewise always be refused, but once proven safe and effective, parents may have an obligation to have their children vaccinated, and governments have an obligation to make vaccine available to those in their custody, their workforce, and citizens unable to protect themselves. In addition, if it is reasonable for public health officials to find that an individual poses a significant risk to others by refusing examination or treatment by a qualified, licensed physician, quarantining that person would probably be constitutionally acceptable.”

On Sept. 2, 2021, the ACLU changed its position.

It wrote: “Do vaccine mandates violate civil liberties? Some who have refused vaccination claim as much. We disagree. At the ACLU, we are not shy about defending civil liberties, even when they are very unpopular. But we see no civil liberties problem with requiring Covid-19 vaccines in most circumstances.”

The ACLU has not responded to emails about the 2008 report.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.