SB277 Opponents: Why Hold a Referendum on an Unconstitutional Law?


By Jake Crosby

If a law is unconstitutional, why hold a referendum on it? The constitution is meant to prevent the passage of laws that infringe on individual rights, even when such laws have support of 99% of the population. With 82% of Californians supporting SB277 which aims to revoke vaccine exemptions, a referendum will not strike down the law. Instead, the referendum will give rise to the perception that opponents view the law as constitutional when it is not.

Although the US Supreme Court has ruled that police powers of the state can trump individual liberties in its 1905 Jacobson v. Massachusetts ruling, it also put limitations on those powers. In its decision, the court stated that “general terms should be so limited in their application as not to lead to injustice, oppression or absurd consequence.”

Because SB277 seeks to mandate the routine immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for anyone seeking to attend a public or private school in California, the CDC should be legally considered to be part of the state. CDC’s conduct therefore reflects on the constitutionality of SB277, or rather its lack of constitutionality.

CDC has proven its lack of integrity on vaccine safety issues, having concealed proof of harm from mercury in vaccines. CDC’s top immunization official has lied to Congress, and the CDC has covered up evidence linking autism to the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine among other vaccine dangers according to a senior CDC scientist.

Despite CDC’s conduct and lack of integrity, SB277 fully mandates CDC’s immunization schedule and revokes all parental choice exemptions to it in California. Far from addressing the issues with CDC, Senator Richard Pan, a primary co-sponsor of SB277, sought to deny them by calling the senior CDC scientist who became a whistleblower against his own federal agency a “fraud.” So SB277 is unconstitutional, and is therefore illegal even when considering the police powers of the state as they pertain to individual rights.

Unfortunately, some lawyers have not considered the constitutionality of SB277 from every angle. Attorney Alan Phillips who specializes in vaccine exemptions stated that “courts can’t second-guess the legislature with respect to vaccine and infectious disease facts” in a letter addressed to “Concerned California Citizens.” Although Phillips was correct in saying that the right to attend school would probably not be a viable legal basis to strike down SB277, he was wrong to state that legislatures have carte blanche to invoke their police powers by revoking school vaccine exemptions. The Supreme Court’s 1905 ruling forbade exactly what SB277 will do: mandate a dangerous immunization schedule produced by a federal agency proven to lie about vaccine dangers as a punitive measure against those resisting the CDC’s vaccination policies.

A lawsuit that makes the previously described case against SB277 is how the law should be fought. Lawsuits predicated solely on parental rights, religious rights or the right to an education will likely be no more successful than a referendum for not addressing how SB277 constitutes an abuse of the state’s police powers. Such cases are perhaps the only the kinds of lawsuits SB277 opponents have approached attorneys with, hence their reluctance to take on SB277 and Attorney Phillips’ preference for a referendum.

Nonetheless, attorneys should examine SB277 with the understanding that there are limits on how a state can invoke its police powers via mandatory vaccination while also taking into consideration the behavior of federal agencies whose misconduct shows SB277 is an abuse of such powers. The case for SB277’s unconstitutionality and that of a similar law revoking the secular choice exemption in Vermont needs to be argued correctly to effectively maximize the possibility that these laws will die and never return from the dead.

As long as a referendum is in the works, however, such lawsuits may not happen. People will wrongly believe that opponents view SB277 as constitutional for organizing a popular vote on it, and an overwhelming vote in favor of SB277 is likely. Unlike judges, the majority of constituents will not have the chance to hear cases against SB277 – only support for SB277 from a media trained to lie by the CDC.

Judges, however, will have to hear cases against SB277 – if a lawsuit against SB277’s constitutionality is filed. The referendum could delay that and will end in failure. Properly argued lawsuits against SB277 and similar legislation are necessary to strike them down.

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22 Thoughts on “SB277 Opponents: Why Hold a Referendum on an Unconstitutional Law?

  1. Kayla Wildman on July 19, 2015 at 6:41 am said:

    Thank you very much for this clear analysis. I think you are right.

    I do want to point out one thing. You write, “SB277 seeks to mandate the routine immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…” In fact, SB277 mandates vaccination against only 10 of the 14 diseases covered in the current CDC schedule. The CDC schedule recommends the following vaccines that SB277 does NOT mandate: RV, PCV, Influenza, and HepA.
    I am pointing this out only because I believe we opponents of SB277 need to be meticulously accurate in our understanding and statements about what this law does; I don’t think this “correction” affects the validity of your opinions about the best way to fight SB277.

    • Thanks for the clarification Kayla. I wasn’t sure specifically what vaccines SB277 mandated, but it would make sense those wouldn’t be included.

      I don’t understand why in the last 15 years nobody ever bothered making this argument; I guess because up until now, no existing vaccine exemptions had been revoked.

  2. Hans Litten on July 20, 2015 at 9:43 am said:

    The (criminal) authorities can add to the 10 FORCED vaccines any time they wish to – right ?

    So the initial 10 is just to get their foot in the DOOR (like a cheap dirty burglar) ,
    and then they can add Gardakil to the FORCED list or the Athelete Foot vaccination or any vaccine-filth they want .

    Or is my understanding incorrect ?

    • Kayla Wildman on August 5, 2015 at 5:13 am said:

      Hans Litten — SB277 as originally introduced to the California legislature by Richard Pan and Ben Allen would have allowed the CA Dept. of Public Health to add any immunizations the CDPH “deemed appropriate” to the list of mandated vaccinations. However, in the Senate Judiciary Committee, an amendment was proposed (by the Committee Chair, I think), and accepted by Pan and Allen, which said that additional immunizations may be mandated “only if exemptions are allowed for both medical reasons and personal beliefs.” I didn’t hear the comments/discussion that led to that amendment, but I think some senator(s) must have expressed concern about the initial 10 being expanded ad lib — and this amendment was proposed to deal with that concern.

      If I remember correctly, a total of nine amendments were made in the bill before it passed the legislature and was signed by the governor. As awful as SB277 is, it was vastly worse as originally introduced by Pan and Allen.

      However, I believe Pan will be back with a bill to “undo” some of the amendments, as soon as an outbreak of some infectious disease comes along that he and his handlers can exploit as a platform. After all, the more vaccines are mandated, the more money vaccine manufacturers make without even having to market their product.

      • Billie Telford on September 9, 2019 at 11:56 pm said:

        We need to never have the attitude that “well we took the worst out of the bill” because they just come back in a year or too and put them back in. They usually do this when we have become complacent and stopped being vigilant. Evil never sleeps.

  3. reader on July 20, 2015 at 9:00 pm said:

    Link from Twitter via @skepticalraptor moments ago:

    Not my field. GO GET ‘EM, JAKE!

  4. 3 comments here
    #1: At the end of above article it said something that was not clear to me: “Judges, however, will have to hear cases against SB277 – if a lawsuit against SB277’s constitutionality is filed. The referendum could delay that and will end in failure. Properly argued lawsuits against SB277 and similar legislation are necessary to strike them down.” Specifically the 2nd sentence: “The referendum could delay that…..and will end in failure” I do NOT understand that sentence. PLEASE HELP. Please don’t think me a dummy, I want to make sure. What is mean by ……. “the referendum could delay that”…….DELAY WHAT? and…..”will end in failure” WHAT WILL END IN FAILURE?

    #2: I need to contact (communicate to) the author of the above article. I can’t immediately see how to do that. Usually most public articles will have an “email address” at the bottom to contact the author. How may I contact this author, anyone know? Use the “contact” choice at the top?

    Please join Yahoo group that is address Statute Law under military rule (our system) which the original colonists KNEW was wrong. The article talks about “police power”. There is NO POLICE POWER in a republic. So someone is lying, California is either a republic or it is a totalitarian state. Join and send email to get answers. See Google for these: Inverted Totalitarianism and Totalitarian Democracy. We will NEVER stop having to fight if we don’t eliminate statutory law. Find out why. Join!

    • 1. The referendum will delay lawsuits, and the referendum will also end in failure.

      2. There is a contact page you can go to where you can easily send messages.

      I agree with you about police power; it’s absurd to mandate anybody to do something that could harm them based on how that decision might indirectly affect someone else. It also seems contradictory to say that when the state takes away someone’s constitutional rights, it must do so in a way that’s not unjust or oppressive. But if someone’s most fundamental rights as guaranteed by the constitution are taken away, how is that not unjust? How is that not oppressive? That’s why the decision should be overturned, but until then we can still make a good argument for why SB277 is unconstitutional even on the basis of language from that decision.

  5. Pingback: Regarding the SB 277 referendum petition | The PPJ Gazette

  6. Lawrence on October 2, 2015 at 2:49 pm said:

    Well, the referendum effort did, in fact, go down in flames. There are accusations of mismanagement and even embezzlement of the funds raised for the effort – and perhaps as few as 93,000 signatures were actually turned in.

    One of the “leaders’ of the referendum effort is now attempting to launch another initiative to “protect parental rights,” but I guess she has yet to realize that parental rights aren’t being infringed upon with the new law.

    No Court, either State or Federal, has ever ruled against a vaccine mandate for students – so good luck, since no precedent exists to try to overturn one.

  7. I’m moving my family out of California. Enough said.

  8. MammaBear on October 5, 2015 at 8:46 pm said:

    Unfortunately, Rock, we will have to fight this everywhere. I am with you though, about ready to bail on this state I love for the ocean but has become corrupt and polluted.

  9. To whom this may concern,

    As a father I am compelled to express my concerns and strong exception regarding the Senate Bill SB 277 that removes a parent’s right to informed consent.

    I think and believe that the choice of if, when and how a child is to be vaccinated needs to remain between a family and their doctor. Where there is a risk of injury or death, no matter how small the perceived risk may be, there must be a choice. To mandate a medical procedure with known risks is medically unethical. I implore you to consider these critical reasons to dismiss


    My reasoning;

    1. The mandate violates a parent’s right to informed consent: Vaccines are chemically synthesized biopharmaceuticals with known and documented side effects that include permanent injury and death. Forcing a medical procedure on a non-consenting individual that carries the risk of injury or death, no matter how small that chance may be, is medically unethical according to the American Medical Association’s code of ethics, is inhumane and is a violation of our basic human right to posses autonomy over one’s own body.

    2. US ranks last for infant mortality, yet first for immunizations: Compared with other industrialized nations, the US administers the most pediatric vaccinations yet ranks the worst – 34th – for infant mortality rate. 1

    3. Even more vaccines will be added to the schedule: As you may well know, there is a clause in the bill that leaves the door open to add as many new vaccines to the pediatric schedule as the California Department of Health sees fit. There are currently 300 vaccines in development.2

    4. No education options for non-complying families: This bill affects all school-aged children registered either in public or private schools, home schools, as well as daycare and preschool facilities. The passing of SB277 combined with California’s compulsory education laws leave parents with religious beliefs against or conscientious concerns about vaccinations no option other than truancy. Families with truant children will thereby face court-determined penalties such as fines, Child Protection Services involvement, or even jail


    5. Pharmaceutical companies have no liability with vaccine reactions: The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation

    Program (VICP) as a federal no-fault system to compensate persons (or families of persons) who are injured by childhood vaccines, has paid out over $2.8 billion to families whose children have died or suffered other adverse reactions. In the past 5 years, an average of $221,000,000 has been paid out per year, which has nearly doubled from years before. It is worth noting that recipients of compensation are not allowed to speak of their case after its been settled.

    6. Big Pharma’s fraudulent behavior: In just the past 5 years, drug makers have paid the U.S. Government $19.2 billion in criminal and civil fraud penalties. Skepticism of the pharmaceutical industry is well deserved, and it doesn’t imply skepticism of science. Furthermore, two former Merck virologists now whistleblowers have filed a lawsuit against

    Merck alleging that Merck falsified data with the MMR II vaccine in order to meet the required 95% efficacy rate. This suggests the possibility that vaccine failure, not only the unvaccinated, is key factor causing the annual outbreaks.

    7. Adverse reactions are more common than widely perceived: Managed by the CDC and FDA, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports more than 30,000 vaccine-related injuries annually. In 2015 alone, $94,982,000.93 has already been awarded to 217 claimants.

    As of December 14, 2014 there have been 6,962 serious adverse events reported to VAERS in connection with the measles vaccine since 1990. Over half of those occurring in children three years old and under. Of these events 329 were deaths, with over half of the deaths occurring in children under three years of age.

    It is estimated that only 10% of adverse reactions are filed with VAERS as this form of passive surveillance is greatly limited by underreporting. In conclusion, when government makes decisions to take away parental rights relative to the health of their children it must only do so when all can agree it is in the best interests of every single child. Opinion 8.08 of the American Medical Association (AMA) states, 1 2 3 4

    of-america-et-al-v-merck-and-co/ 5 6


  10. grey on July 1, 2016 at 5:09 am said:

    Have there been any legal constitutionality challenges since Bruescewitz?
    It would seem that if manufacturer and more specifically physicians had limited liability, since physicians are highly incentivized financially to vaccinate by schedule, that the common good is subservient to financial rewards.
    The 1986 vaccine court law also severed the seventh amendment right to trial by jury, and other normal judicial process, such as discovery.

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