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The Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy

The Constitutional Implications of Ebola:
Civil Liberties & Civil Rights In Times of Health Crises

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
3:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.

UC Irvine School of Law, EDU 1111


This public forum addresses the constitutional and public health implications of the Ebola response in the United States. According to state and federal laws, patient information is deemed private and is to be held in strict confidentiality. However, in the wake of Ebola, well-established protocols to guard patient privacy have been neglected or suspended without any public debate. Already there has been litigation about when states can use their quarantine laws in trying to prevent the spread of Ebola.

At this forum, a panel of experts raises questions not only about how to contain the disease, but also to what extent Americans value their healthcare privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights. To what degree are Americans’ Ebola fears influenced by the origins of the disease? What liberties are Americans willing to sacrifice to calm their fears? How to balance the concern for public welfare with legal and ethical privacy principles?

Featured Speakers


  • 3:30 p.m. Welcome
  • 3:35 p.m. Panel Discussion
    • Prof. Andrew Noymer: Public Health In Times of Emergency—A Look Back On HIV, Tuberculosis, and Threatening Diseases
    • Dr. George Woods: Cognitive Bias and Fear in Times of Natural Disaster and Health Crises
  • 4:05 p.m. Armchair Discussion
    Reverend Jesse L. Jackson and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky will discuss civil rights and liberties moderated by Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy. This armchair discussion will engage law’s role in protecting, promoting and balancing civil rights and civil liberties in times of perceived and actual national threat and disaster. Two of the foremost thinkers on civil liberties and civil rights will weigh in on this international conversation.
  • 5:00 p.m. Press Conference/Q&A

This forum is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.
RSVP online to ensure a seat

More details and live webcast link on event page »

Questions? Contact Professor Michele Goodwin
Chancellor’s Chair & Director of CBGHP or (949) 824-3897