Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1952707
 
 

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Public Health Versus Personal Liberty – The Uneasy Case for Individual Detention, Isolation and Quarantine


Jorge L. Contreras


American University - Washington College of Law

January 31, 2011

The SciTech Lawyer, Vol. 7, No. 4, Spring 2011

Abstract:     
In the summer of 2007, Atlanta attorney Andrew Speaker made headlines when, while traveling in Italy on his honeymoon, he was diagnosed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), a contagious, untreatable and potentially-lethal condition. Against the instructions of U.S. public health authorities, Speaker re-entered the U.S. only to be served by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with a federal order of quarantine at a hospital in New York, the first such order to be issued in nearly half a century. Speaker challenged the CDC’s diagnosis of XDR-TB, resulting in an eventual downgrade of his condition and the lifting of restrictions on his movements. The Speaker case generated significant public attention and Congress conducted formal hearings regarding the incident. Speaker’s case highlights a crucial issue in public health law: the circumstances, if any, under which public officials may detain individuals against their will in order to protect the public from communicable diseases. In other words, when do utilitarian principles of social good trump the guarantees of individual rights afforded by the Constitution?

Number of Pages in PDF File: 7

Keywords: quarantine, Speaker, XDR-TB, tuberculosis, epidemic, typhoid mary, CDC, public health

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Date posted: November 1, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Contreras, Jorge L., Public Health Versus Personal Liberty – The Uneasy Case for Individual Detention, Isolation and Quarantine (January 31, 2011). The SciTech Lawyer, Vol. 7, No. 4, Spring 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1952707

Contact Information

Jorge L. Contreras (Contact Author)
American University - Washington College of Law ( email )
4801 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20016
United States
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