Henning Jacobson, a 50-year-old minister, put his faith in his own liberty. Back in his native Sweden, he had suffered a bad reaction to a vaccine as an infant, struggling for years with an angry rash. Now he was an American citizen, serving as pastor of the Swedish Lutheran Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That gave him the full protections of the U.S. Constitution.
So when the Cambridge board of health decided that all adults must be vaccinated for smallpox, Jacobson sought refuge in the Constitution’s promise that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”