“To promote the general Welfare”

Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

In the wake of the recent Canadian trucker’s demonstrations in Ottawa, the conservative-leaning Great American Patriot Project has urged and recruited American truckers to participate in a “Freedom Convoy”, a copycat cross-county caravan to protest “the unscientific, unconstitutional government overreach in regards to [COVID vaccine] mandates.”

Interestingly, by the time the truckers reach the Capitol Beltway, the vast majority of the State mandates will have been lifted in all but a few “hot spots” … and those for public transportation likely to be history by March 18th.

As to their claim of “unscientific”, tragically, too many Americans have fallen under the spell of the antivaxxers, mask protesters and those peddling unproven theories about vaccine safety, orchestrated by talking heads on FOX and other conspiracy-centric sources, almost none of whom are trained infectious disease doctors or scientists … nor responsible for the consequences of their words.     

Like everyone else, while they are entitled to their own opinions, such beliefs do not alter actual facts.  Vaccines and masking have been proven effective in preventing a greater spread of COVID, and in reducing hospitalizations and deaths from the virus.  According to nearly every scientific and medical study, in Red and Blue states, of the 972,000-plus US COVID deaths 98%-99% were among unvaccinated. 

As to mandates being “unconstitutional”.  Again, the convoy’s promoters would appear to be on thin ice. 

The Preamble to the Constitution specifically states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” One could reasonable assume promoting the general welfare might materially relate to protecting the public health.

In 1803 the US Supreme Court’s landmark Marbury v Madison decision “established the principle of judicial review—the power of the federal courts to declare legislative and executive acts unconstitutional.”

In 1905, the Court in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, upheld the authority of states to compulsory vaccination laws. The Court's decision stated that individual liberties are not absolute and subject to the police power of the state. It found that the Massachusetts law did not violate the 14th Amendment and held "in every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand" and that "[r]eal liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own [liberty], whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

This decision was subsequently upheld in a 1922 decision and again when the Court by a 6-3 vote denied relief to those who were seeking an injunction halting Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

If patriotism is the true objective of the hundreds of drivers taking part in this “form over substance” protest, perhaps objectively listening to other points of view might enable them to find meaningful ways to facilitate change.