Civil Rights Commissioners Gail Heriot & Peter Kirsanow on the VA’s Planned Race-Based Vaccine Distribution
From a letter sent Tuesday, which generally strikes me as quite correct.
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We write as two members of the eight-member U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and not on behalf of the Commission as a whole. We write to express our concerns regarding a recent announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
On December 10, the Department announced its initial plans for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Department indicated that it would prioritize Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian veterans in this distribution because these “communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.”
We recognize that COVID-19 is particularly dangerous to people who fall within certain categories, including the aged and those with existing health problems. And we further acknowledge that it is both reasonable and prudent for the Department to prioritize many of our most susceptible fellow citizens. We are concerned, however, that your decision to distribute the vaccine in part based on race might create a constitutional equal protection prob
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