The Constitution Requires the U.S. to Offer Vaccine Passports – By Kevin L. Cope and Alexander Stremitzer (Slate) / May 4 2021
The concept of vaccine passports has opened a new fissure in the COVID culture wars. Many liberals and libertarians—and a slim majority of Americans—support them, while many conservatives call them unjust, even unconstitutional discrimination. On this last point, however, U.S. constitutional law is clear: The government can limit certain rights and privileges to the vaccinated, especially during a pandemic. So the more pertinent question now isn’t whether vaccine passports are allowed; it’s whether they are required—whether the Constitution entitles vaccinated people to receive exemptions from many COVID restrictions. We believe it does.
The term vaccine passport essentially has two different meanings. The first is simply an electronic or paper record showing the holder’s vaccination status, like Canada’s “CANImmunize” credential, the World Health Organization’s yellow fever vaccination “Yellow Card,” or a COVID vaccine card.
More controversially, vaccine passport has come to mean a policy in which the government and businesses exempt vaccinated people from certain restrictions. Beneficiaries are allowed to travel, avoid quarantine, attend sporting/political/arts events, eat in restaurants, and/or patronize other businesses, with few or no restrictions. Those without this credential may face ongoing significant restrictions until a community reaches herd immunity. Many countries like Israel and Denmark already have such a system in place, and for U.S residents, they’re already being implemented for university enrollment and outgoing international travel.