By Wendy E. Parmet and Elaine Marshall
I. Introduction: The Threat to Public Health
As we reach the COVID-19 pandemic’s third anniversary, the warning signs for the future of public health law are everywhere. In the past three years, courts, led by the Supreme Court, have endangered reproductive health and handcuffed governments’ capacity to meet a wide array of public health challenges. Along the way, courts have displayed an alarming disinterest in science or the impact of their decisions on the public’s health.
At the same time, many state legislatures have rushed to introduce bills to limit health officials’ ability to act to protect the community’s health. Between January 1, 2021, and May 20, 2022, at least 185 of such laws have been enacted.
In this climate, public health law needs introspection, imagination, and regrouping.