The Law of Emergencies

1st Edition

Public Health and Disaster Management

Print ISBN: 9781856175470
eBook ISBN: 9780080949796
Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
Published Date: 20th July 2009
Page Count: 408
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The Law of Emergencies introduces the American legal system as it interacts with emergency management and public health issues. Hunter engages with and debates some of the most important Constitutional issues of our time, such as the tension between civil liberties and national security. She also shows how the law in this area plays out in the context of real life emergencies where individuals often have to make split-second decisions.

This book covers the major legal principles underlying emergency policy and operations. It analyzes legal authority at the federal, state and local levels, placing the issues in historical context but concentrating on contemporary questions. It includes primary texts, reader-friendly expository explanation, and sample discussion questions. Prior knowledge of the law is not necessary in order to use and understand this book. The contents are organized into 13 substantive chapters plus two additional chapters with problem sets. This makes it especially easy to use for a separate course focused on law.

This book satisfies the need of professionals in a wide array of fields related to emergency management to understand both what the law requires and how to analyze issues for which there is no clear legal answer. It features materials on such critical issues as how to judge the extent of Constitutional authority for government to intervene in the lives and property of American citizens. At the same time, it also captures bread-and-butter issues such as responder liability and disaster relief methods. No other book brings these components together in a logically organized, step by step fashion.

Key Features

  • Features case studies of high-risk scenarios including pandemic flu
  • Offers extensive analysis of legal issues from a distinguished scholar, together with charts and text boxes for clarification
  • Teaches readers how to think about issues crucial to the life and liberty of US citizens, including the limits of constitutional authority


Graduate and undergraduate students studying the major legal principles underlying emergency management and homeland security policy and operations, as well as professionals in EM and HS, and private-sector risk managers

Table of Contents

Part I. The Legal Framework

1. Our Constitutional Structure of Government

The history of emergency laws in the United States; constitutional authority for enhanced executive power during emergencies; should there be an "emergency Constitution"? The Jacobson case.

2. The Constitution and Individual Rights

The concept of negative liberty; procedural and substantive due process; equal protection of the law; measuring risk and protecting liberty.

3. Congress and the Agencies

The National Emergencies Act; congressional power under the spending clause; post-9/11 emergency-related laws; what agencies do; coordination of agencies; the process of rule-making; the APA in action; state emergency management acts and the powers of governors; interstate compacts; jurisdiction over ports and airports; and the law governing local agencies such as police and fire departments.

4. The Domestic Use of Military Troops

The prohibitions of the Posse Comitatus Act, the exceptions in the Insurrection Act, the meaning of martial law, and the differences between the regular military, the reserves, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard.

Part II. The Law of Health Emergencies

5. Federal Public Health Law

Regulations for domestic diseases and for international travelers, changes to CDC's quarantine regulations, due process changes, and the role of airlines.

6. State Public Health Law

History, Jacobson revisited, emergency health powers laws, the powers of government during an emergency.

7. Contemporary Issues in Public Health Emergency Law

Definitions of bioterrorism, emerging infectious diseases, SARS, rationing medications, contemporary mass quarantine, and travel restrictions.

8. The Role of the Private Sector

The economic dimensions of emergencies; emergency rooms in an emergency; workplace safety; postal workers and the anthrax attacks; workplaces and m


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" . . . Hunter does a superior job of restricting an extraordinarily complex issue to the more essential components, juxtaposed with specific historic examples rather than a series of ‘suppose that X happened’ scenarios."--Dr. Christian M. Salmon, Research Scientist, George Washington University, School of Engineering and Applied Science. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Volume 7, Issue 1, 2010, Article 18.

"Hunter engages with and debates some of the most important constitutional issues of our time, such as the tension between civil liberties and national security. This book satisfies the need of professionals in a wide array of fields related to emergency management to understand both what the law requires and how to analyze issues for which there is no legal answer."--The Journal of Law Enforcement

"Hunter more than answers the needs of her intended audience: undergraduate, graduate, and law students, as well as professionals whose work involves preparation for or mitigation of emergencies. More broadly, however, this book is worthwhile for anyone responsible for public safety and security."--Security Management