Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on COVID-19 vaccines or ‘universal vaccination’
CLAIM: After a legal challenge from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and a group of scientists, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe and “canceled universal vaccination.”
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The Supreme Court has not issued any rulings regarding the safety of coronavirus vaccines. Kennedy, a lawyer who has advocated against vaccines, called articles sharing the claim “misinformation.” He said he has been involved in dozens of lawsuits regarding vaccine safety, but none of them have reached the Supreme Court.
THE FACTS: Incorrect articles and social media posts falsely alleging the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed coronavirus shots unsafe have been circulating online for months and recently reemerged as new vaccine requirements issued by the federal government take effect.
Dozens of such posts shared over the past week link to blogs that regularly publish hoaxes and misinformation. The undated articles do not list an author and are nearly identical from site to site. They allege the nation’s highest court has sided with a group of scientists and Kennedy in a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The articles go on to erroneously claim that the defendants failed to prove “vaccines over the past 32 years have been safe for the health of citizens,” and falsely assert that the court “canceled universal vaccination.” The articles and posts also include a supposed quote from Kennedy.
But Kennedy told The Associated Press that the articles are false, as is the quote.
“The article about the Supreme Court is misinformation,” Kennedy said. “The quote is fabricated. Clearly somebody made it up and is promoting it because the same quote keeps coming back no matter how many times I deny it. The same article keeps reappearing.”
Furthermore, there is no legal case that matches the one described in the articles.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled in a case involving a challenge to a Covid-19 vaccination requirement,” Joanne Rosen, a senior lecturer at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in an email to AP. Rosen has studied the legislative precedent for vaccine mandates.
While Kennedy said he has been a part of more than 30 lawsuits on the subject of vaccine safety, those are at different stages of the judicial process and none have appeared before the Supreme Court.
The articles also incorrectly identify Kennedy, who is the son of former presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, as a U.S. senator and share several untrue claims about mRNA vaccines, including the myth that mRNA vaccines alter DNA.
They also include the bizarre assertion that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not actually vaccines. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has labeled the shots as “vaccines” in all available information on its site.
The websites that published two of the most widely circulated articles did not list contact information or publisher information.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.