Public Health Emergencies as Threats to National Security

9 Georgetown J. of Nat. Security L & Pol __ (2016)

12 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2016

See all articles by James G. Hodge

James G. Hodge

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Kim Weidenaar

Network for Public Health Law

Date Written: September 12, 2016

Abstract

Protecting the nation from a diverse array of public health threats remains a consummate objective of federal, state, and local governments. Achieving it is no simple task. Threats to the public’s health are multifarious, unpredictable, and downright scary in many cases. Legitimate and irrational fears are stoked by significant levels of distrust of government or industry.

Americans’ trepidations of public health threats invariably beget responses among federal, state, and local governments even if the actual risks to domestic populations are infinitesimally low. Still, for decades, national, state, and local government leaders often classify these and other conditions as emergencies through different legal authorities.

Recently, federal leaders and agencies have re-conceptualized the nature of public health emergencies in terms of national security, reflecting a shift in national authority and accountability. Multiple Presidents and other federal officials speak in terms of how public health events pose national security threats (NSTs) or national security priorities (NSPs). As discussed in this Commentary, classifying public health concerns as national security threats presents uncertainties with practical and legal implications. Practical implications include the augmentation of federal influence, resources, and powers to coordinate responses internationally and at home. Labeling public health emergencies as national security events can alter how federal, state, and local governments respond legally to public health crises now and in the future.

Keywords: Emergency, National Security, Public Health, Threats

Suggested Citation

Hodge, James G. and Weidenaar, Kim, Public Health Emergencies as Threats to National Security (September 12, 2016). 9 Georgetown J. of Nat. Security L & Pol __ (2016) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2844446 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2844446

James G. Hodge (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
111 E. Taylor Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4467
United States
480-727-8576 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://law.asu.edu/degree-programs/public-health-law-policy

Kim Weidenaar

Network for Public Health Law ( email )

Saint Paul, MN
United States

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