RELEVANCE - WHAT'S GOING ON?

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Remembering Jacobson v. Massachusetts.

Deborah Cho - February 28, 2015 - Bill of Health, Harvard Law School blog

Jacobson v. Massachusetts was a seminal case in public health law from the early 20th century because it held that the State could mandate vaccinations, or other public health measures, when necessary to protect public health and safety.  The Court recognized some limits to this intrusion of liberty, such as when an individual would suffer harm from the measure or when the individual would be unduly burdened — as in the case of someone with strong religious beliefs against the measure.  Furthermore, the Court articulated some general standards: the measure must have a real and substantial relation to the public health goal and the burden caused must not be disproportionate to the benefit.  

What should the government do when our liberties conflict with our public health?

Should the Jacobson precedent be revisited?

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Civil Liberties in the Time of Coronavirus

Chicago Tribune - March 24, 2020

...From a legal and constitution point of view, governmental agencies have considerable authority to enforce rules to combat infectious diseases.  The courts have generally been reluctant to interfere with these authorities.  But their latitude is not unlimited...

How do we balance individual liberties with a government mandate to keep us safe and secure?

If courts tend to side with the government in times of crisis, how do we defend our liberties in an era of permanent crisis?

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Creating the Coronopticon

The Economist - March 28, 2020

And there's the rub.  Covid-19 demands an array of drastic, immediate responses.  It also requires thinking that looks beyond the next two weeks.  The network of computers built for entertainment, convenience, connection and security is helping in all sorts of quotidian ways, from video-conferencing to team-working to gaming for rest and recuperation.  But it also provides a network of sensors that can coordinate the responses of both individuals and whole populations to a degree unimaginable in any previous pandemic...It would be best to keep an eye on them.

Should we worry about a government that has more and more access to our private data?

How do we "keep an eye on them"?

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"Always it is by bridges that we live."

                                          Philip Larkin

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