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Public Health Threats & the U.S. Constitution

Public Health Law Academy Training

Good Governance

From communicable disease outbreaks (like the H1N1 flu virus) to natural disasters (like Hurricane Katrina), public health law plays a central role. However, the law — more specifically, the Constitution — requires that responders take into account the rights of individuals affected by the emergency.

This training introduces the relevant constitutional principles and doctrines that protect individual civil liberties from government overreach. It discusses what responders need to know about the law when preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

The training includes examples from real-life scenarios involving the imprisonment of a mother because she resisted treatment for her tuberculosis, as well as a 1991 measles outbreak that resulted in a court order requiring parents to vaccinate their sick children, against their religious and philosophical beliefs.

After completing this training, you will be able to

  • describe the role law plays in emergency preparedness and response;
  • explain the disease control powers and limits public health authorities derived from the United States’ Constitution; and
  • discuss the need to balance collective actions for the common good against individual freedoms.


If you are a TRAIN user, or are interested in continuing education, please register through TRAIN.