The Law of Emergencies

The Law of Emergencies

Public Health and Disaster Management

1st Edition - June 22, 2009

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  • Author: Nan Hunter
  • Paperback ISBN: 9781856175470
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080949796

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The Law of Emergencies discusses the legal framework for disaster response and emergency management. The book engages with and debates some of the most important Constitutional issues of our time, such as the tension between civil liberties and national security. It also examines how the law of emergencies plays out in the context of real life emergencies where individuals often have to make split-second decisions. It analyzes legal authority at the federal, state and local levels, placing the issues in historical context but concentrating on contemporary questions. This book includes primary texts, reader-friendly expository explanations, 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, making the book especially easy to use for a separate course focused on law. The book leads students through the process of understanding 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. The book also features case studies of high-risk scenarios including pandemic flu, together with charts and text boxes for clarification. This book will be of interest to graduate and undergraduate students studying the major legal principles underlying emergency management and homeland security policy and operations; professionals in EM and HS; and private-sector risk managers.

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 mass quarantine; job protection; income replacement; and health care.

    Part III. Disaster Management
    An introduction to the template guiding federal, state, and local authorities in response to disasters resulting from any cause

    9. The Stafford Act

    History, conflicting voices, definitions, the declaration process, and federal assistance.

    10. The Powers of State and Local Governments

    Separation of powers in an emergency--the governor, legislature, courts; state and local government; Maryland as a case study.

    11. Who Does What

    The September 11 response, developing a comprehensive response plan, the National Incident Management System, the National Response Framework, state-to-state assistance agreements, and human rights during an emergency.

    12. Searches, Siezures, and Evacuations

    The Fourth Amendment; reasonable searches; community caretaking; case studies of a furniture store fire, a smallpox hospital, and a nursing home; takings and emergencies: statutory response, public policy.

    13. Sovereign Immunity and Government Liability

    The sovereign immunity defense, statutory waivers of sovereign immunity, negligence, intentional torts and active endangerment, the discretionary function exception, the Berkovitz case, and a Hurricane Katrina case.

    14. Liability Issues for Individuals

    Potential liability problems for responders acting in their capacity as public sector employees and for private individuals volunteering in an emergency; questions of professional licensing and what constitutes negligence for individuals who have special training, such as EMTs

    Part IV. Testing Your Knowledge

    15. A Dirty Bomb Scenario

    A hypothetical but realistic time line of events associated with a dirty bomb attack. Questions interlaced in the text will ask students to place themselves in various roles as the narrative develops and will probe understanding of the materials in the first 14 chapters.

    16. Pandemic Flu Scenario

    A hypothetical but realistic time line of events associated with a naturally occurring infectious disease outbreak. Questions interlaced in the text will ask students to place themselves in various roles as the narrative develops and will probe understanding of the materials in the first 14 chapters.

    Appendix: Case Study: The Spring 2009 Swine Influenza Outbreak

    Defining swine flu; tracking the development of swine flu, prevention and control of measures; the outbreak in California; federal and international responses; World Health Organization Global Telephone News Conference Transcript; emergency declarations in the United States; congressional engagement; coercive measures and overreaction; conflicting views.

Product details

  • No. of pages: 408
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Butterworth-Heinemann 2009
  • Published: June 22, 2009
  • Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
  • Paperback ISBN: 9781856175470
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080949796

About the Author

Nan Hunter

Nan Hunter has been a consultant since 2005 with the Redefining Readiness Project of the New York Academy of Medicine. This position has given her an inside look at the dynamics of the emergency response profession as it engages with both legal issues and demands by communities for greater sensitivity to the needs of disadvantaged persons. She has taught law school courses in Public Health and Bioterrorism Law and Public Health and Emergency Preparedness.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Law, Georgetown Law School, Washington, DC, USA

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