Almost as soon as the government started passing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the lawsuits began. Many of them wound up arguing about Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 1905 Supreme Court decision that said states had the power to impose mandatory smallpox vaccinations. If the government has the power to vaccinate you, surely—regulators argued—it has the power to do things like shutting down businesses. But the existence of another case that term, called Lochner v. New York, calls into question that narrative. What does Jacobson actually have to say about when a regulator walks into a pandemic? Tune in to find out.


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Special thanks to guests David Bernstein, Richard Epstein, and Stephen Vladeck, and Jonny May for his ragtime pop covers.


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