The Courts and Public Health: Caught in a Pincer Movement

American Journal of Public Health, March 2014, Vol. 104, No. 3, pp. 392-397

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 175-2014

Posted: 22 Feb 2014  

Peter D. Jacobson

University of Michigan School of Public Health

Wendy E. Parmet

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: March 2014

Abstract

Public health practitioners are familiar with the general outlines of legal authority and with judicial standards for reviewing public health regulations. What may not be as familiar are three emerging judicial doctrines that pose considerable risks to public health initiatives.

We explain the contentious series of judicial rulings that now place health departments’ broad grant of authority in jeopardy. One doctrine invokes the First Amendment to limit regulatory authority. The second involves the Supreme Court’s reinterpretation of federalism to limit both federal and state public health interventions. The third redefines the standard of evidence required to support regulations.

Together, these judicial trends create a pincer movement that places substantial new burdens on the ability of health departments to protect health.

Suggested Citation

Jacobson, Peter D. and Parmet, Wendy E., The Courts and Public Health: Caught in a Pincer Movement (March 2014). American Journal of Public Health, March 2014, Vol. 104, No. 3, pp. 392-397; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 175-2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2398985

Peter D. Jacobson (Contact Author)

University of Michigan School of Public Health ( email )

109 Observatory
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029
United States
734-936-0928 (Phone)
734-764-4338 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sph.umich.edu/~pdj/

Wendy E. Parmet

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

400 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States
(617) 373-2019 (Phone)
(617) 373-5056 (Fax)

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