Is San Antonio barring kids from school until they get vaccinated?

The opening line of the court’s opinion:

Ordinances of the City of San Antonio, Texas, provide that no child or other person shall attend a public school or other place of education without having first presented a certificate of vaccination. 

Wow.  Did you know about that?  Probably not, since it happened almost a century ago. That line is from Zucht v. King which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on November 13, 1922.   Different century, different pandemic. 

Even though it was decided a long time ago, the Court’s decision remains what the lawyers call “good law.”  It’s never been overturned and has been cited as lawful authority as recently as 2019 in a case from the 9th Circuit, South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, 959 F.3d 838, 942 (9th Cir. 2019). 

So what was the holding of the Zucht case?  The Court held that San Antonio’s ordinance did not violate the U.S. Constitution.  Therefore: submit to vaccination or don’t come to school.  The court noted that “it is within the police power of a State to provide for compulsory vaccination.”  Moreover, “a State may, consistently with the Federal Constitution, delegate to a municipality authority to determine under what conditions health regulations shall become operative.” 

School boards this year are going to be considering how to handle the COVID vaccine as applied to attendance at school.  The board should get legal advice on that issue. This long ago case does not settle the matter. It’s the starting point for the legal analysis, not the finish line.  A lot has happened in the law since 1922 that has to be taken into account, including federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on disability or religion, and state laws about other vaccination requirements, and parent rights.

So call your lawyer. But if you want to impress your lawyer, you might want to open the conversation with “How does Zucht v. King fit in to your analysis?”  The lawyer will instantly know that you are a Loyal Reader of the Daily Dawg!!

Thanks to Alert Lawyer Blake Henshaw from our firm’s Houston office for tipping me off to this interesting SCOTUS decision, which can be found at 260 U.S. 174. 


Tomorrow: Zoom Zoom Zoom!