What Did President Reagan Think About “Vaccine Court?”

by Kent Heckenlively JD

It’s always been a mystery to me how President Reagan, generally known for his suspicion of unchecked governmental power, could have signed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which established the so-called “Vaccine Court.”  To the parents of many children with autism, this legislation is the direct cause of the autism epidemic.

While researching my new book, INOCULATED: How Science Lost Its Soul in Autism, I came across the answer in the pages of the New York Times.  (Full disclosure – In my younger days I was a “Youth Delegate for Reagan” to the 1984 Republican Convention in Dallas.  Forgive me.  I was young and foolish.)  In an article by Robert Pear, which was published on November 15, 1986, in the New York Times entitled, “Reagan Signs Bill on Drug Exports and Payment for Vaccine Injuries,” (and easily accessible through a simple Google search), Reagan laid out his thoughts.

“Mr. Reagan said he had approved the bill with ‘mixed feelings’ because he had ‘serious reservations’ about the vaccine compensation program. . . The program would be “administered not by the executive branch, but by the Federal judiciary,” Mr. Reagan said, calling it an “unprecedented arrangement” that was inconsistent with the constitutional requirement for separation of powers among the branches of the Federal Government. . . The Justice Department had urged a veto of the bill because of its objections to the new system of compensating people injured by vaccines.  But Vice president Bush, Commerce Secretary Malcom Baldridge and Dr. Otis R. Bowen, Secretary of Health and Human Services, urged Mr. Reagan to sign it, as did James A. Baker, Secretary of the Treasury. . . Mr. Reagan said he hoped that Congress, in adopting any excise tax, [author’s note – the tax on each vaccination which pays for the vaccine injury compensation fund which had not yet been finalized in the legislation.] would also make ‘corrective’ changes in the framework of the vaccine program to address his objection.”

Reagan Had Serious Reservations…

There is so much in that paragraph to dissect, but if we break it down it is simple to see the fault lines that have come to so divide people in the thirty years since the passage of this bill.  To begin with, Reagan had “serious reservations” about signing the bill.  He thought it an “unprecedented arrangement” that was “inconsistent with the constitutional requirement for separation of powers among the branches of the Federal government.”  For those who are unfamiliar with the reasoning behind the concept of separation of powers, let me explain it very simply.  People lie.  People cheat.  We’d like human nature to be better than that, but it’s not.  And sometimes to those people lying and cheating they don’t even realize what they’re doing.  They’re trying to protect a friend, their job, maybe even the department for which they work.  It’s human nature.  We bond with those people closest to us and try to protect them and what they care about.

That’s why it’s important to have other people, not in our immediate circle, watching over our actions to make sure we’re not falling into that sort of corruption.  Policemen are for the most part, brave public servants and valuable members of our society.  But power has its temptations.  That’s why every police department needs to have an Internal Affairs Department of public watchdog group.  Even the police cannot be trusted to “self-police” themselves.

A Veto?

Can there be a warning flag any more dramatic as when the article notes that the Justice Department recommended a veto of this legislation?  Think about it.  The Justice Department is usually filled with young and passionate lawyers (and probably at the time those who had a greater reverence for the Constitution), often from the best law schools, and when they were asked to look at this law and how it might work in practice, gave it a thumbs down.  They considered centuries of legal history and experience in creating a justice system and whether those various schemes actually delivered on their promise, and found the set-up of the Vaccine Court to be lacking.

Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman

Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of California was the main sponsor and guiding force of this legislation, but he had significant Republican support with Vice-President George H. W. Bush and James Baker, who at one time was Reagan’s chief of staff.  As so many in our country today find themselves frustrated with both political parties, it is important to note that both political parties contributed to this disaster.  This is not a Republican problem.  It is not a Democratic problem.  It is an American problem.

Everybody made mistakes, from the parent groups who backed this bill, to the President who signed the legislation into law.  But it also important to note that the President who signed the bill had significant reservations about it, and actually asked for those problems to be fixed.  That has been forgotten as those who continue to point out the flaws in the Vaccine Court are treated as if they are transgressing divine law handed down by the Creator.  This tragedy was created by humanity.  Humanity can fix it.  We just all need to work together.


by Kent Heckenlively JD

13 thoughts on “What Did President Reagan Think About “Vaccine Court?””

  1. Lest we forget that the presidency of the US is run by a group of people that surround the president-advisors of large corporations ie Bush etc. I give no kudos to Reagan for having reservations about the bill. The fact that he didn’t veto it speaks mountains about his presidency. Historically he has been given way too much credit himself for his role as leader of this country. In fact, if one reads outside the box of history, many believe Reagan was one of the stupidest presidents ever.Reservations are to Reagan what Viet Nam was to Johnson.

  2. Autism is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis caused by the live measles vaccine. Journalist Christina England in the UK found secret documents discussing that fact.

    Revealing that fact led to the NYS medical board declaring I have a “delusion of conspiracy” and stealing my medical license. I now teach people how to reverse their vaccine induced diseases (which include all diseases in internal medicine) with natural therapies (especially homeopathy). Of course, nothing that works is covered by insurance. Vaccines are weapons of mass destruction (in people and in pets), and this insanity must be stopped.

  3. both comments are well thought out.. i agree and like what Kent had to say.. it is good these discussions are happening… as much as I would have liked for them to not be in the first place. HIndsight is easier, not that we have scientific proof… and more proof and more proof as needed for the laws to be reversed. I like it that the truth is finally surfacing, as it must.

  4. Henry Waxman was my Congressman. The fact that he was glorified at his retirement as equivalent to Thomas Jefferson shows how the public is still clueless about the damage he wrecked on a whole generation of children. But Henry Waxman cared little about the public or his constituents; he never showed up for anything. He stayed in power because every time someone tried to run against him, all these extra candidates would enter the field. The Democratic voting block was too powerful against a scattered Republican field of candidates. One year no one ran against him. I wonder if even he knows what he has done. He did preside over the Congressional Hearings (or at least some hearings). He was a poor kid from South Central Los Angeles, and he must have liked hanging out with the powerful and rich. He probably left office a lot richer than he went in.

  5. I’m not always a fan of what Bill Maher has to say, but I think that he was right when he said that right-wingers have a campy obsession with Ronald Reagan that is almost gay. I question why there would be a whole post on this subject on this blog…but…whatever. I will agree with the part at the end, though, that this is not a left or right problem, so maybe this author can convince Tim Bolen of that.

  6. SB 277 was passed in California by Democrats. The vote was along party lines. Period. Democrats are for big government running everyone’s lives. Period.

    What’s to argue about? Facts are facts.

  7. Well, I guess you straightened me out, and the author of this article, as well, Mr. 2581623W. (interesting name, by the way…) You put a period after your simplistic reasoning, so I guess that’s the end of it. Now, if you did not put a period, and allowed this conversation to continue, I might have pointed out how I thought that things were nowhere near as simple as you seem to be trying to make them. I might have also pointed out how there are MANY Democrats who disagree with their elected leaders on alternative health issues. I might have also suggested that I think that I may know what the root of this issue is. However, I guess, since you put a period, we are going to have to reject all of that nuance and just accept your simplistic interpretation of simplistic facts.

  8. @Mark…SB277 is supported overwhelmingly by democrat senators and assembly members…and was further supported by a democratic governor. In Mississippi, an amendment to their mandatory vaccine bill was authored and introduced by a largely republican majority, and was voted on the same way, where the majority of of assembly members for personal and religious exemptions were republican and majority against were democrat. No one lumps all voters in with the party they support as saying they agree with all the party does…however, most democrats are unaware of what their party is pushing through in CA while they have a majority in the Assembly, the Senate, and with the governor.

  9. It IS SIMPLE in California. It is called corruption. Here, the words “Democrat” and “corruption” are synonyms.

    The FBI has a reserved parking spot, I think, in front of the State Capitol they’ve arrested so many legislators.

  10. Wait…Robert…I thought that this conversation was over. 2581623W put a period down. I mean, if you and I were going to continue this conversation, I would say that I disagree with you that no one “lumps all voters in with the party they support as saying they agree with all the party does.” It seems, to me, that 2581623W may be doing just that. However, I would agree with you, Robert, that it seems to be the case that “most democrats are unaware of what their party is pushing through in CA.” If the period had not been dropped, I might have wanted to discuss things with a little more nuance. I might have wanted to discuss why it is that so many Democratic voters are ignorant of this issue, if there is anything that can be done about it, and how we can get something done about it, if it is possible to do anything. However, as 2581623W put down a period, and also reiterated that it is simple in California, I guess that all of that nuance that I would have wanted to enter into this conversation has already been declared to be irrelevant.

  11. Mark – It is clear that in California that Democratic VOTERS do not pay attention to what their legislators are doing or thinking. I have found that that is a Democratic VOTER trait. More, I have found, that Democratic VOTERS are unaware of issues. They are too busy finding the best eight dollar latte.

    Democratic VOTERS generally do not pay attention. Look at who they just allowed to be their Presidential candidate. Period.

  12. George HW Bush was on the payroll of Eli Lilly. Maybe this was part of the reason for the dreadful legislation being passed and signed into law in 1986. The following questions were not asked, “If this legislation is enacted, can you sue the vaccine manufacturer directly?” “Can anyone go to jail for making a knowingly unsafe product?” The problem with draconian bills is people don’t read before signing their children and grandchildren’s lives away to corporations. I have a couple of neurological conditions and I’m here to tell you safe vaccines are an oxymoron.

  13. When I heard that the vaccine industry was made immune to lawsuits under Reagan, I stopped admiring him.

    I knew that the bill was signed to law under Reagan, but I’m just now learning that he had these reservations about it.

    Now I can admire him again, because he was pressured into it by his staff and media.

    TO HELL WITH GHW BUSH, BAKER & THE COMMIE LEFT, traitors to the constitution!!
    TRUMP 2016!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.