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Populations, Public Health, and the Law

Publication Year: 2009

Law plays a crucial role in protecting the health of populations. Whether the public health threat is bioterrorism, pandemic influenza, obesity, or lung cancer, law is an essential tool for addressing the problem. Yet for many decades, courts and lawyers

Published by: Georgetown University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

Many people have helped make this book possible. I especially want to thank George J. and Kathleen Waters Matthews, whose support for scholarship at Northeastern University has made this book possible. I also want to thank my dean, Emily Spieler, for...

Abbreviations and Acronyms

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-4

The venerable common law maxim, salus populi suprema lex, expresses a principle long noted, even if infrequently followed, by American law: the well-being of the community is the highest law. The maxim reminds us that law exists, at least in part, to serve the common...

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1. Public Health and the Population Perspective

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pp. 5-27

Public health issues are pervasive in the law. Every day in courtrooms throughout the United States, and indeed across the globe, courts hear cases that relate directly or indirectly to the public’s health. Judges in constitutional law cases ponder the state’s power to...

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2. Public Health and American Law

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pp. 28-50

It has been more than 100 years since Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. declared that the future of the law lay not in legal doctrine but in the insights and understandings garnered by other disciplines. Since that time, lawyers, jurists, and legal scholars have become acquainted with,..

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3. Toward a Population-Based Legal Analysis: The Supreme Beef Case

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pp. 51-77

After decades in the shadows, public health law has begun to reemerge as a vibrant field within American law, albeit one that remains largely in the margins of legal discourse and education.1 In the wake of AIDS, the anthrax attacks on the U.S. mail, and the decades-long...

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4. Population Health and Federalism: Whose Job Is It?

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pp. 78-108

What do infectious epidemics, hurricanes, cigarettes, and handguns have in common? First, each can harm the health and well-being of multiple populations. Second, the source of each of these threats extends beyond the boundaries of any single locality or state, yet each of these public health threats affects different regions...

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5. Individual Rights, Population Health, and Due Process

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pp. 109-140

In the fall of 2001, as the nation struggled to come to terms with the terrible events of 9/11, and anthrax spread through the United States mail, the CDC commissioned the Center for Law and the Public’s Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities to draft a model...

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6. A Right to Die? Further Reflections on Due Process Rights

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pp. 141-165

Often the American legal and political systems seem to pay more attention to matters affecting the few than to threats endangering large populations.1 So it seemed in 2005, when the fate of one woman in a persistent vegetative state, Terri Schiavo, commanded the...

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7. The First Amendment and the Obesity Epidemic

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pp. 166-190

Freedom of speech, secured by the First Amendment, is a bedrock principle of both American democracy and constitutional law.1 It is a principle that courts, including the Supreme Court, have come to regard very seriously. Indeed, if any constitutional right is treated as creating...

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8. A Population-Based Health Law

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pp. 191-218

Since 2001, public health officials have focused much of their attention on preparing for and responding to a public health emergency, a grave crisis that could quickly wrack massive havoc on the public’s health.1 Initially, in the wake of 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks...

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9. Tort Law: A Population Approach to Private Law

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pp. 219-243

Asbestos, cigarettes, lead paint, and guns. In recent decades privately initiated tort litigation about each of these dangerous products and others has captured the headlines, occupied courtrooms, and provoked a heated debate about the role of tort law in protecting...

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10. Globalizing Population-Based Legal Analysis

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pp. 244-266

It is banal but true to say that we live in a global age. Advances in communication technology (especially the Internet) and travel have combined with the integration of markets and the spread of capitalism to knit the world in new ways. This integration, or globalization as it is...

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11. The Future of Population-Based Legal Analysis

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pp. 267-276

This book began with the common law maxim, salus populi suprema lex. Its meaning is simple: the well-being of the community is the highest law. The maxim helps remind us of why we have law. Law exists not only to vindicate the interests and rights of individuals, nor simply...

Table of U.S. Cases

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pp. 277-282


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pp. 283-292

E-ISBN-13: 9781589016057
E-ISBN-10: 158901605X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589012615
Print-ISBN-10: 1589012615

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2009