Michele Goodwin on Quarantine and the Limits of Government Action - COVID-19 & The Law Series

Julie Hill, UCI Foundation Chair and UCI Law Board of Visitors member interviews Chancellor’s Professor of Law Michele Goodwin on the limits of governmental action and constitutional rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Introductions by UCI Law Dean L. Song Richardson. Recorded on May 13, 2020 via Zoom virtual presentation.

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  • Mehrsa Baradaran

    Chancellor's Professor of Law
    Expertise: Bioethics, Constitutional Law, Family Law, Health Law, Reproductive Rights, Torts
  • Julie Hill

    UCI Foundation Chair

Podcast Transcript

[Narrator]: Welcome to UCI Law Talks from the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Join us on Twitter @UCILaw.

[Song Richardson]: Good evening everyone. It's my pleasure to welcome you to the first presentation in our COVID-19 and & The Law series. Today we'll be discussing quarantine and the limits of government action, and I cannot think of two people more well-suited to lead this important conversation than Julie Hill and our very own Chancellor's Professor of Law Michele Goodwin. You are in for a treat and I'll introduce them both in a moment, but first I want to thank the UCI Law team that made this evening possible and they are, Rebekah Bergeron, Jillian Henry, Dennis Slon, Mary Ann Soden, and Stephanie Wilner. Thank you so much for bringing everyone here this evening together.

Now, it's my great pleasure to introduce our moderator Julie Hill. She's an extraordinary trailblazer and a leader in business and philanthropy and if you want her full bio, there's a link to it in the program. Now, Julie is the founder of several companies and her philosophy is to say yes at the door. She's been quoted as saying, "If an opportunity comes up, walk through the door even if you don't know how to do it." She and I have had so many conversations about the importance of pushing oneself to do more than one ever thought was possible and to never allowing yourself to be defined by the limits that others have set. That's what Julie has done throughout her life. Her extraordinary success and her remarkable career are a testament to her philosophy of saying yes at the door.

Let me just share a few of her career highlights. She's been a trailblazer in land development including serving as president and CEO of Costain Homes. She's also the founder of Hillsdale Development, which is a land development and construction company. Julie has served, and continues to serve on numerous boards, so I'll only name a few. She's currently entering her second year as the chair of UCI's Board of Trustees and she's the first woman to serve in that position. She's also a member of the board of directors of Anthem, which I'm sure you know is the largest health insurance company in the U.S., and she's on the board of the Lord Abbett Family of Funds, which is a $200 billion New York-based mutual fund management firm where she was the only woman for five years. Now, Julie is also a philanthropic leader in our community. She has served as the chair of Human Options. She's been a board member of the Orange County Community Foundation and served as a member of a woman's leadership board of the Kennedy School of Government.

Julie has also, unsurprisingly, been recognized for her many accomplishments including receiving the Amelia Earhart Award from the UCI Women's Opportunity Center and the Glass Ceiling Award from the American Red Cross. I can't end this introduction without mentioning that she'll also become one of the first civilian astronauts in our history. You can ask her about that sometime. In sum, Julie is a pioneer and innovator and an all-around brilliant leader, which is why I asked her to also serve on UCI Law's Board of Visitors. She's been a steadfast and dedicated supporter of UCI Law from the beginning and is responsible for the existence of our Domestic Violence Legal Clinic. I am so thrilled that she's agreed to moderate the discussion this evening. Thank you so much, Julie.

Now, we are also incredibly fortunate to have Michele Goodwin on our faculty at UCI Law. Professor Goodwin is a Chancellor's Professor of Law, and the founding director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy. Her full bio is also in the program. Now, Michele is not only on the faculty of UCI Law, but she's also on the faculty of the Stem Cell Research Center, the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, the Program in Public Health, and the Department of Criminology, Law and Society. Michele's expertise includes bioethics, constitutional law, family law, health law, reproductive rights, and torts. She's an exceptional scholar in each of these disciplines and she's also a public intellectual. She's frequently featured in the media and is at the forefront of national and international discussions of important topics. Recently, she was invited to present on the big ideas main stage of the prestigious Aspen Ideas Festival and she also served as the plenary moderator at a UN Session of over 5,000 people focused on ending violence against girls and women.

Michele is also a prolific author. Her publications include five books and over 80 articles, essays and book chapters as well as numerous commentaries. Her work is published, or is forthcoming, in numerous law journals including the Yale Law Journal and the Harvard Law Review. Her most recent book is “Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood,” which was published by Cambridge University Press in February of 2020. Just today, the Washington Post described this book as a must-read and one of the most important books in the field. Similar to Julie Hill, Chancellor's Professor, Michele Goodwin, is a pioneer and a trailblazer. We are so very fortunate to have her as a member of UCI Law's faculty and I simply can't think of two people better suited and more suited to have this conversation together. We have two great minds and two brilliant leaders.

Now I'll turn the presentation over to Julie Hill and Michele Goodwin to discuss this important topic, Quarantine and the Limits of Government Action, and I'll return at the end to wrap up the session. Please join me in giving a very, very warm welcome to Julie Hill and Michele Goodwin.

[Michele Goodwin]: Thank you Song.

[Julie Hill]: Thank you Song. Remind me to have you always do my introductions.

[MG]: I know, right?

[JH]: I didn't know who you were talking about there for a while.

[MG]: Exactly.

[JH]: I'll add my welcome to all of you on the call. I think we have about 400 people or more on this Zoom, so I hope we don't break the internets. As you can see, I have my glass of wine as it is 5:00 p.m. and we thought we'd invite you all to start your cocktail hour with us, and Michele, you have your glass of wine. The idea was that this was to be a conversation between two friends talking about the issues of the day. Michele is just my typical friend that I hang out with every day. As Song said, she's an expert in bioethics, constitutional law, family law, health law, reproductive rights, so it's really a privilege to do this with you, Michele.

[MG]: It’s a pleasure to be with you, Julie.

[JH]: Let's just jump right in. So COVID-19 & The Law: Quarantine and the Limits of Government Action. A lot of interesting issues around civil liberties in our daily lives, the recent beach wars come to mind and we can come back to that. But how about if we jumped right in on something that is becoming politicized, that people have opinions on, and that's the wearing of masks when out of the house. As in, you don't have to be a Democrat to wear a mask. There's a lot of debate about this one. Do you see this as a civil liberties issue? I suppose you could argue that on both sides.

[MG]: Well, look, first let me say it's such a pleasure to be with you. As Song Richardson, Dean Richardson was introducing you, I couldn't help but think about what my great grandmother used to say which was, "Take care of business now and think later." That seems to be your mantra by, "Go in the door and say yes." We're just channeling our eternal forebears and all of that. Look, what government has the responsibility to do is to balance protecting health and safety with also safeguarding our civil liberties. We could put that in the context of masks, but before we do let me just say this, which is that, dating back to 1905 Supreme Court decision, Jacobson V Massachusetts, the Supreme Court made clear that a government has the authority to protect the public health and safety.Iit's their parent's patriate authority. That was, in that case looking at vaccine, that the government had the authority to impose vaccines or acquire vaccines in order to safeguard the public from smallpox.

So, the law is very clear, and even before Jacobson V Massachusetts, dating back to the 1700s and the 1800s, the Supreme Court had made iterations with regard to quarantine and so forth. When we're talking about masks, really, that's low level. But the real tragedy behind that, and I'll get specifically to the point, is that we actually don't have enough. While there are folks that are upset about needing to wear a mask, which the government could say, "Wear a mask to protect the public." That's simple, that's basic. We're at a time when we're confronted by this very unique coronavirus. It's not that this is the only one, there are multiple coronaviruses. It happens that this one is particularly lethal, particularly deadly. We don't necessarily have the full science behind this particular coronavirus, which is why it's being called a novel coronavirus. As governments around the world are trying to safeguard the public, what they're doing is imposing a number of measures and one of them happens to be, wear a mask. That's to protect individuals themselves as well as other people.

We can talk about how so much has changed since the very beginning about, do you wear a mask, do you not wear a mask? Very early on, part of the challenge with the discourse around masks was the fact that we just simply did not have enough in the United States. I love to talk about why we didn't have enough. One clear thing is that, in the U.S., we got rid of our pandemic team. That was a tragedy and a huge mistake. A pandemic team had been established through our national security office agency during the Obama administration. The science was very clear that there was the possibility of a novel type of a flu such as this that might emerge in a time such as now. Leading to the inauguration before Obama left office, the Trump administration had been advised about this.

Part of the reason behind that was the fact that during the Obama administration we experienced H1N1. It was similar to this, but it emerged in the United States. There was the rise of Zika, there was the rise of Ebola. We're living in a time where none of this is... this is less and less becoming unique and rare. To your point on masks, people be safe, wear a mask and protect the people on planes.

[JH]: Absolutely. Just one more point on masks and we'll move on to some of these disparities. It's an interesting issue for me. In some ways it's a cultural issue. The friends that I have who are Asian have said, "We don't think you get it in the U.S. We wore masks, not for ourselves, but for you. It was our social responsibility not to spread it." I think that's something that's gotten lost in this discussion.

[MG]: Well, I'm so happy that you actually mentioned that because that's actually a point at which we could start. Let me just say this, I've been so deeply disturbed about the racism behind how we have come to understand COVID-19, so deeply disturbed by the anti-Asian sentiment. The fact that there are children who were bullied at school before school shut down, the fact that there are people in this country who've been spat upon, who've had guns pulled on them, who've been beaten up. A woman in New York had acid poured on her, a woman of Asian descent. We are better than that, but that reveals, of course, what's in our soil.

One of the strangest aspects of this and the ironies of this is that as there were politicians who were saying, "This is Wuhan disease, this is the China virus," incredibly inappropriate, no one was stepping up to claim H1N1 as being derived in the United States. Now, to be clear about H1N1, that killed upward of more than half a million people or 500,000 people died because of HIN1, which started right here in the United States. This very idea of pointing fingers elsewhere at other countries is absolutely ridiculous, and it's hypocritical, and it's something that we should absolutely stay away from.

On that point, what's very interesting is there are politicians saying, "Well, this is because there are people in China who eat snakes and whatnot," and it happens that they were politicians from Texas who were saying that. Well, if you look on websites in Texas, it turns out that rattlesnake is a delicacy. There are numerous restaurants that sell rattlesnake. You can get it smoked, you can get it grilled, you can get it made into sausages and all of this. Again, this kind of racist pandering that will point a finger as to what people eat elsewhere. I mean, you look at some of the cuisine in the United States, things that people have eaten out of necessity or the things that people eat because they just desire it, raccoons and opossums and all sorts of things.

Going down the racist rabbit hole is actually something that we should actually avoid. We really need to pay attention to health and science. That really is the backdrop of your question which is, how do we keep people safe? How do we generate business in the United States where we can even make masks and PPEs? We don't want to lose those kinds of opportunities, but going in all of these other complicated that serve no public goodwill is really dangerous.

[JH]: Let's follow that line of thinking. One of my questions for you is the disparity in the infection rates and the incidents of hospitalizations, the divide along economic and racial lines, thinking of incarcerated population, indigenous population.

[MG]: It's a tragedy. I'm so glad you can raise that too. The reality is that there are many vulnerable people who've been affected by this and there are people who, of course, are, let's say, economically vulnerable who've been hurt by this. I wish that there was more compassion nationwide for what's been happening on the East coast. For anybody who has friends in New York, you know that no matter the wealth point or poverty point, there are people who are living in crisis. There are people in New York were afraid to go into their elevators, afraid to go into their lobbies, because people in their buildings have died. For some people in other parts of the country, they don't feel that. There've been people storming their capitol buildings and things like that, suggesting there's really nothing here.

Well, it's hard to hear that there's nothing here if in fact you've had loved ones to die and to suffer. As you've said, there are racial disparities that we've seen here. What's flawed from this is that the very problematic infrastructures that we had that preexisted COVID are revealing themselves now. Medical systems that didn't provide care to everyone or medical systems that, sadly, suffered from the legacies of implicit bias, which is something that Dean Richardson writes so prolifically about. Because of that, what you're seeing are dramatic racial disparities.

If we were to just unpack some of what these cases look like... when I've seen reported in the news how sad a five-year-old girl in Michigan died, who happens to be black, from COVID-19. When I read the story though, it's not just that a five-year-old in Michigan has died. I read the story of her parents pleading with the pediatrician, "Please take a look at our daughter." The pediatrician saying, "Well, we've given you some Tylenol. It takes some days to work," and the parents saying, "It's not enough. Our daughter is really suffering," and then the parents taking the daughter to the emergency room and the girl being sent back home. The parents having to go back again and then says, "Please look at our daughter. Please provide care," and then the daughter dying.

I look at the cases of a black nurse who worked at one institution for more than 30 years and four times was actually sent away and then dying from COVID. The very kind of implicit biases that, sadly, wounds our country and wounds our medical system are those that we see now that have created certain kinds of disparities such that then we see in states like Wisconsin where African Americans comprise only 6 percent of the population, but make up more than 50 percent,  somewhere near 60 percent, of the COVID deaths in that state. Even more dramatically in a city like Milwaukee, and Wisconsin isn't unique. Across the country, we see these same types of grave disparities and that's looking at it in terms of race, in terms of black folks. The same is true with Latinos and meat industry in this country. I hope that we get back to that because there's more that I want to actually say about what is happening in terms of meat processing plants across the country. They've become hotspots for COVID.

You mentioned incarceration. The ACLU has issued a study that came out about a week and a half ago, and it looked at, if we don't do a better job of releasing individuals from jails in this time of the pandemic, it's possible that we might see more than 100,000 additional deaths in this country. We have to pay attention to all these issues. For people who say, "Well, those are people in jail. We should treat people in jail differently than we treat other people." I've heard politicians say this. What we must understand is that there are many people who happen to be in U.S. jails who've actually not been convicted. These are people who actually just simply can't afford bail. Then we have two thirds of the incarcerated population in the United States who are nonviolent offenders. For people who are not looking upon the incarcerated population with humanity and compassion, I urge them to think again because we're all affected.

One last point is that you mentioned, people in tribes. The Navajo Nation in the Southwest has experienced a dramatic outbreak. Again, one can say, let's look at the underlying infrastructural challenges in our country and we'll see them play out in grave ways during these times. In any rural area, but this is compounded by folks on reservations, you're looking at limited medical facilities, oftentimes no water supply where people have to go out and get their drinking water from elsewhere, great distances between them and the nearest medical centers. These are spaces where when COVID hits, it hits in devastating ways.

[JH]: It does indeed. One of the things that has been on my mind, partially because of having been involved with Anthem for so long, is the... first of all, there were 20 or so million people anyway who did not have health insurance, even after Obamacare. Now you think about the 30 million people who have lost their jobs and many of them relied on their jobs to get their health insurance. We've just dumped a mass of people who are not served and I don't hear government talking about that. The question is, is it a civil right to have health insurance? I believe it is. I think we have to look at these populations that, for one reason or another, have been disadvantaged either economically or whatever. You think about the fact that this virus, with all of the evil and the sadness and the pain that it brings, at least it's casting a light in very sharp relief about our, as you say, underlying structural discrepancies in our abilities to access our rights as human beings.

[MG]: Sure. Absolutely.

[JH]: Can you speak to that as a silver lining maybe?

[MG]: It's important to see the silver linings in all of our American legacies, to the extent that if we were a country that could actually embrace its legacy people who have fought very hard for this democracy to be real and actualized for everyone. I sit back, Julie, and I love for everyone to see someone like Harriet Tubman as a true American hero. That's not just a forebear for black people in the United States, but for everybody. If we could look at, as you say, some of these most painful times in our history and actually learn from the people who actually said I believe we can be better than that. How can we take these times and show what our democracy really is meant to be about?

In these times, you see COVID-19 actually ripping off the Band-Aid, showing what is underneath showing in many places, the kinds of things that we wish weren't there but sadly just happened to be the truths of our nation. I think it's important that we look at those issues quite squarely. You've mentioned, what about people who don't have healthcare? This has been an ongoing challenge in our country. Someone who doesn't necessarily have his full due yet in our country is President Johnson. President Johnson is recognized for the pack breaking legislation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signing that into law, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But he was also that person who was instrumental behind Medicaid.

Many people don't recognize that, that also was an important civil rights crusade as well because we know those images of the hoses and the dogs being put on folks in Alabama and Mississippi who were just looking for a right to education to be realized, just looking for the right to be able to drink in the water fountain, that they wanted to use the bathroom that they needed to... what have you. But behind all of that brutality, where could people be served? What Johnson knew and what so many people lived through is that black people died on the front steps of hospitals that wouldn't serve them, that were racially exclusionary. Johnson saw it as critically important to provide access to healthcare and to rid the United States of that kind of discriminatory healthcare regime.

In the backdrop of COVID, and the silver lining as you say, what's been interesting is that there've been folks who've talked about Sweden. They've said, well, let's look to Sweden. And here's what's important. We can't just say, well, let's look to Sweden  and the fact that Sweden has taken a different approach with regard to COVID-19 without understanding that in Sweden they have universal healthcare. In Sweden, if you have a child, both partners get to have parental leave that's up to a year or more. In Sweden there is a different kind of social safety net. So if we are going to look to silver linings, and if there are politicians that say well let's turn to Sweden, then let's really turn to Sweden and look at the fact that in Sweden it's not a trade-off of your life. It's not a trade-off of your well-being. The government has found ways to be there for the people who live there in that country. If we do want to turn to how certain European countries are doing better, then let's look at the infrastructures in those nations because we could learn something.

[JH]: Speaking of learning something, I'm going to make an editorial remark here. Have you notice the countries that have really had a smart response, in many cases, to--

[MG]: Led by women?

[JH]: Are led by women. New Zealand and Germany and Norway and I think there are six that I read about. Anyway, that's not what this forum is about. We're talking about civil rights and civil liberties and how, in a crisis, it becomes more exacerbated. Let me ask you a more practical business question, this is a hypothetical. Let's say that there's a business, and I can think of lots of them that I used to frequent, a dry cleaners or a hairdresser, or a specialty stores of some kind. Let's say that they are deemed non-essential and they have been shut down, but for very real economic reasons they have reopened, and they've been fined or they had their license suspended or in some way stopped. Do you have an opinion on whether an appeal or a court action would be successful given that the order is rather vague and if a definition of essential and non-essential is arbitrary?

[MG]: Well, one of the challenges here is that we've come into this space with a failure of government from on high to lay a pathway with greater guidance. You're right, to the extent that there have been those that have said look, this is a bit of a mishmash across the country, where it seems that in some places we have sheltering in place, we have different definitions across the country about what is essential and what is not. In some states it's been deemed that ammunition is essential but not women's reproductive healthcare. Get a gun and get bullets, that's more essential than a woman being able to be seen for her pregnancy. So there are inconsistencies and it's understandable that businesses, as they are suffering, want some form of economic relief. And what that relief might look like also might look different across the country depending upon what state that business actually happens to be located in, and the composition of what those courts look like.

Now, some may say that's wrong. That's the government that we actually have. In the state of Wisconsin, just today, the Supreme Court has down now, once again, with a decision that pushes against the governor. In that case, the governor's shelter in place order has now been overturned by that Supreme Court and the court has sent that back. We saw the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the time of the Wisconsin election just a few weeks ago, again, overturned the governor who wanted extra time for the election. It raises an interesting question for these times, and that is the politicization of our courts and our democracy. What is our democracy? How does one shape a meaningful democracy in these times when there are people who've become quite suspicious of what our courts truly represent. Maybe we'll get into more of that, but that is also a very important question for these times, not just the actions of legislators, not the actions of governors, but also the actions of our courts.

So far in the state of California we see support for the governor. As I've said before, the U.S. Supreme court has made it very clear that government can in fact impose certain conditions in order to protect public health and safety. I will say that government action can't be absolute. What we haven't talked about are some of the limits, right, and in these times there are important limits too that we want to pay attention to, especially when it comes to protecting individuals' privacy. Maybe we'll get in that as well.

[JH]: Why don't we do that? When you and I had our conversation, one-on-one when we were thinking about this presentation, we... Oh, by the way, I hope everybody's having a glass of wine and we're not drinking alone up here.

[MG]: Yeah, or a water, whatever.

[JH]:  For cocktail hour. This whole notion of the municipality of Newport Beach, a councilman suing the governor for infringement of rights. I mean, it begs the question on the hierarchy of rights, municipalities versus state versus federal government. But your answer to me was, in a crisis it's constitutionally been proven over and over that the higher authority has jurisdiction.

[MG]: Well, when you think about this, one thinks about it within the context of the obligation of a government. If our homes were sliding down the hill, people want their government to come in and help save their home. If their homes are burning, one wants the fire department to come in and put the fires out. One understands that. Governments have duties as well as obligations to the public. Duties, responsibilities, obligations, even though these all seem like synonyms, they're actually a little bit different by nuance. Yes, I mean, dating back, it's very clear in law that the parent's patriate authority that a government has, and that is to serve as the role of euphemistic parent to the citizens of its jurisdiction in order to protect them in matters related to safety, public health and safety.

The point of caution that we've traditionally had to address is that, in times of a national security threat or public health crisis, sometimes it has been that government has gone too far. Sometimes it has been that government has used, during those times, a pandemic or a public health crisis as a means of discrimination. Now that's not what we've seen here, but for the audience you might wonder, well, what does Professor Goodwin mean about that? With eugenics in the United States, and eugenics started in the United States, most people associate it with Germany. Germany adopted the law that we had, the model law in the United States. The United States, at the turn of the last century, determined that its public health crisis involves people that they thought were socially and morally and mentally unfit. The government created a campaign then to sterilize people that it viewed as being not sufficiently American, based on their genetics at birth.

There was a model Virginia law that was then challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. It was really like a test case because it was a case that involved a poor white girl from Virginia who had been raped and got pregnant after her employer's nephew raped her. In the state of Virginia they had this colony and this colony was for people that they considered socially unfit, and they really wanted to rid society of people -- it sounds horrific, and it was horrific -- rid society of people that were deemed unfit. The case goes up before the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes says, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough," and he uses Jacobson V Massachusetts and he says that the very authority that the state has to vaccinate is broad enough to cover snipping the fallopian tubes.

Now we see that as a horrible exercise of government authority, terrible. In that way, the U.S. government saw being unfit as its own pandemic and the result was, sadly, tens of thousands of Americans sterilized against their will. There are times in which we can see that government abuses its authority and its power, and we have to be mindful of that.

[JH]: How do you see Trump's order to keep the meat packing and slaughterhouses open in that light?

[MG]: This is a real tragedy. Again, we see what's percolating to the top are certain infrastructural problems that existed below. I think it's a tragedy on many different levels, looking at the meat packing industry right now, where we have COVID hotspots, where we have had high contamination rates, where we have begun to see a tremendous death toll. It's one where immigration intersects, where there are people who feel powerless to be able to express the types of challenges that they're under because they fear being deported. It is really a tragic space in so many regards and not much of it is actually paying attention to protecting the health of the people who serve there.

Let me say this, Julie, and I love having this conversation, I wish we could go on for hours because we're just getting started. What I think we really need to pay attention to is that we've not actually done the work that we need to do, we're thinking about what essential means and who are essential workers. In fact, instead, what we've done is to see some people, as expendable, as fungible. We claim that they're necessary, we see that they are because they deliver food, they work in the meat packing industry, they do work at the hospitals. But at the same time, there has been such a low regard, really, for the humanity of these people, and we have to be honest about that and we need to do a better job of it. But it reminds me of something. Shortly after the 13th Amendment was ratified, and the 13th Amendment ended slavery, it turned out that plantations grew larger post 13th Amendment than prior. Because the 13th Amendment had an exception and that was, slavery could be maintained so long as individuals were convicted of crime.

This then became an expedient wedge in way for southern states to create all sorts of things that could become crimes. If there were three black people standing on a corner, that's a crime, and if you can't pay the $100 fee, in 1867, then you go to jail. If you're a black person and your house is too small or it's too large, that's a crime. If you're caught in a park and you're a black person, it's a crime. What I'm getting to is that what these systems then created would have pushed people in jail and then black people were rented out. In places like Alabama, thousands upon thousands were rented out to coal mines. These coal mines would regularly collapse. You'd have black kids who had been convicted because they stood on a corner or what have you, hundreds of them would regularly die. They were necessary, but they were expendable and fungible. When I think about our coal mines and the lack of safety today, I think, well, that's just been historically true, because historically the people that have been shuttled into that space were thought of as expendable and fungible.

[JH]: Exactly. You know, I think, maybe, one of the things that might be happening, and I would hope, is that as a country we're getting a civics lesson. We stopped teaching civics, I think, in high school in the way that we did when I was coming up, and I would hope that these kinds of debates or discussions would happen all around. It's vital to keep our democracy strong and going. I invite all of our audience to continue these kinds of conversations. Before we take questions that have come in from the audience, I have a sense that we've gotten a few, do you have thoughts for people who are tuning in who might be wondering how they can make a difference? Do you have suggestions for them?

[MG]: You know, I do, but before I get to that, and you might have to remind me, you mentioned civics lessons. This is a time for us to learn about who we are, and to be honest about that. I think that five or six years ago there were conversations that we were perhaps not ready for in our country, because we saw ourselves as being so far beyond sexism, classism, racism. There were those who write about it, who know empirically that we're still challenged by that. But I think as a social matter, many people believed we were just in a different place.

But if you look at the Confederate flags being waved in Michigan, where there are death threats against the governor there who's just simply trying to keep the people in that state safe. When you look at the kind of racist vitriol that has arisen during this time, when you think about governors saying that a woman's ability to be able to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy during this time, when they say, "Well, that's just not essential." All of those things tell us something more about our country. I do think that lesson that you're talking about in terms of civics is critically important and with that, in terms of what people can do.

I think in this time, we see the urgency of what's behind our democracy and the vote, see the importance of people voting, see the importance of people articulating voting in safe ways, and that is making sure that in California where people already had the opportunity to vote by mail, but will be voting by mail in the election. No matter what is going to be happening in their states, it's really important that people participate in this democracy. That is critical. There are so many people who have died, who've been wounded, who've been injured, who've contributed their life's work to making sure that our democracy could be whole and many of us share those legacies. I'd like to think that those legacies don't just relate to people of color, but those legacies relate to us all.

[JH]: Yeah. What a concept to get a ballot in everybody's hands.

[MG]: Yes, I love that idea.

[JH]: Insurrection.

[MG]: It probably didn't take an insurrection to think about voting being essential. You know what I'd love to see, I'd love to see a voting holiday in the United States. It is fundamentally unfair that there are some people who have to wait until after getting off from work at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and rush to the polls where there are lines and they have to wait hours more in order to vote or risk being fired because they want to go and vote at nine or 10 in the morning, and yet have to wait in line five or six hours. We are better than that. We have to do a better job.

[JH]: There's so many things to do, so many things we have to fix. Things to think about. What I want to do is have you give any suggestions to the audience about ways that they can make a difference or success, and then we'll turn it over to Song who will do some questions from the audience.

[MG]: Alright, well, let me just put this one out and then turn it over to Dean Richardson, and that is, really, folks getting out to vote and finding the ways to do that. And what I mean by getting out, I'm not necessarily saying out such as people in Wisconsin who were forced to go out by that state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. We know that at least 70 cases of COVID were tied to people in Wisconsin going out to vote, but being engaged in the electoral process and being sensitive to the electoral politics and process.

What I mean by that, one of the things that we've seen in our nation in recent years, and it's not new, it doesn't get honor to the legacy to even think of it as being new, but voter suppression. Voter suppression has become real, voter ID laws and whatnot, the claims that there's voter fraud taking place, which we know has just simply has not been proven at all. But we know that the effects are tremendous. We know that in Wisconsin, for example, in Milwaukee, there were only five polls that were open in the last election. In one of their counties, Wauwatosa County, there was one poll for 72 or 73,000 people in that particular state. Again, those are the kinds of issues that we have to pay attention to. For people who don't have that experience and say, "Well, it's pretty easy for me. I spend 10 minutes and I vote." It's important to understand that not everybody in this country has that ease of voting and we have to care just as much about their right to vote as our own when it's easy.

Before Dean Richardson comes on, I want to make this point. When I think about Fannie Lou Hamer, Fannie Lou Hamer is from Mississippi. Ms. Hamer worked as a sharecropper and many times had been threatened by the owner of the farm in which she worked that she would be fired and so would her husband and that they would make sure that they never had the opportunity to work anywhere. The reason why she was threatened so often was because she was fighting so hard for the right to vote. I am moved by what she describes as one of her experiences. She and a group of women were on their way, once again, to try to vote. In Mississippi, they were notorious for requiring people guess the amount of bubbles on a bar of soap in order to vote, or how many jelly beans were in a jar in order to vote, or to recite the Mississippi State Constitution.

Despite all of those impediments and barriers, Ms. Hammer and her friends were on a bus to go vote. When the bus paused for them to take a restroom break, police arrived, and police took them to a jail, a jail that was occupied by men, and police ordered the men in the jail to beat the women. They ordered two men in the jail, two black men, to beat Ms. Hammer. Now, she had suffered from polio as a child, and so tried to protect the leg that had been most affected by it. The guard was insensitive to that and to beat her even harder. In fact, when dissatisfied with how the incarcerated man was beating her, took the baton himself and began beating her in the head. Ms. Hamer, as she recounted this at a Democratic National Convention, she said, "All of this just on the account that I want to vote to become a full citizen," that continues to resonate with me. I think it should resonate with all of us in this time that... we're in a time of COVID, we're in a time of pandemic, but we must protect our democracy and voting right is essential.

[JH]: So basic. Thank you so much.

[MG]: Thank you.

[JH]: Dean Richardson questions.

[SR]: Yes. This has been such an incredible and fascinating conversation so far. We have a number of questions, but given that we have about 10 minutes left, let me ask the broadest one that I received, to give you time to think about and answer this. From your point of view, what important questions are we not asking? Questions that you ask yourself for which there are no clear answers.

[MG]: I think that we're not asking appropriate questions about our food supply in these times, what's happening to our farmers? How are we feeding people? How will we go to feed people? Especially given what we know in terms of our meat packing facilities and things like that. How do we keep those spaces safe? How do we keep the food supply safe in the United States? I think that we're not asking the appropriate questions with regard to housing and the homeless populations in the United States. I think we're not even beginning to scratch the surface. I do think that there is a silver lining when it comes to that, but we're clearly not doing enough. I think we're not necessarily asking the right questions, not just about how we restart the economy, but what's the best kind of economy that we can build in our country going forward? What do these times mean in terms of what is essential in terms of the kinds of wages that people deserve to earn in our country?

I think that we're perhaps not asking enough questions or the right questions with regard to domestic violence and sheltering in place in our country. While staying at home on one hand is perceived as safe, and it is, on the other hand for so many hundreds of thousands of folks who are affected by domestic violence, we've not... it's a tragedy that we know exists in this country and sadly, we're not asking questions about how do we get to those populations to try to help out. You know, we've been talking about democracy and voting, but I don't know that we've been having the best kinds of conversations that we can have, robust conversations, about, all right, how do we get beyond a system that was actually imparted to us during the time of antebellum slavery? That's what we're living with the Electoral College. How do we rethink that system as a whole?

Finally, although there are many more that we could be thinking about, what does this mean in terms of international relations? What does this mean in terms of international trade going forward? We're not there, we certainly aren't even paying attention to what's happening on the continent of Africa, what's happening in some parts of the world where developing economies are going to be hit by this. Then finally I tie that with the environment as well. What does COVID-19 mean for the environment? Perhaps there we've seen one of the brightest silver linings, which is that with people off the seas and a bit less in planes, we've seen certain types of wildlife and sea life return. So I think across those various spaces, almost every aspect of life, we need to think about how COVID is affecting it.

[JH]: One of the things I would say in answer to that, take an example out of business. The best businesses that I've been involved with are thinking of this in three stages. The first stage is just the immediate response to the crisis, trying to make sure that people are safe, their supply chains are working, keeping the business going and flowing. The middle is starting to think about how we would move people back in and then probably how we're going to have to move them back out again, if we're honest about that. But the third piece that I've not seen talked about is how are we going to reimagine ourselves? What does this teach us both in the world of commerce, the world of civil liberties, the world of how we just culturally interact with each other. I would love to see a thoughtful person in leadership. I mean, this is such a great time for real leaders to emerge, to come up and start talking about, "Here's what we can do afterwards." Somebody said to me, "Why waste a good crisis?" Let's talk about --

[MG]: That's absolutely right.

[JH]: ... how we can be better afterwards.

[SR]: I think we have time for one more question, we have about six minutes left and I want to follow up on what you just said, Julie. If both of you, as you think about the impact that COVID-19 has had across the globe, and as you just said, never let a good crisis go to waste and reimagine what our society could be. What are some thoughts that you both must have already had about what you think are the best things that could come out of this challenging time?

[MG]: Well, maybe I'll start and turn it over to you, Julie. One of the things I've thought about is our crisis in education. Shortly after President Trump conjectured about injecting bleach or experimenting with the products that we know kill the virus on the spot, we saw a spike in parts of the country from poison control centers with people ingesting household products and bleach and things like that. It revealed a crisis in education. I think we have to recalibrate. Again, this is a crisis before now. We see these studies that students in the U.S. aren't performing at the same rate as their peers worldwide and whatnot.

I couldn't help but think back about President Obama and all the flack that he got because he said that the price of arugula was excessive at Whole Foods. If you go back, people went crazy about this, "How dare he use that word arugula?" As my daughter said, she said, "Arugula is a farmed vegetable. Are farmers elitist now? It's not caviar." But it was interesting. To speak of something that grows from the earth was treated as something that's elitist rather than, "Oh, maybe we should know what arugula is because it's a leafy green that grows from the earth, it's nutritious. That there was such incredible pushback, what does it say about us? A silver lining really could be thinking about how we invest in education, how we prepare people broadly to meet the kinds of challenges and opportunities that Julie talked about.

[JH]: How about we add to that a class in critical thinking skills. That's something I've seen, that's been sorely missing. Also, using your word elitist, there's this wide swath of anti-intellectualism in our country. If this crisis is going to be solved, it's going to be solved by the scientists, and science is our best way of getting to the truth and to try to re-instill in people the understanding that science really is the way out and to revere that, and that goes along to your point about education.

[MG]: It absolutely is right. A respect for science, a respect for medicine, a respect for the enterprise of saying, that that is not a bad thing. That is actually what led us to being able to put someone on the moon, and to do the kinds of things that have distinguished the U.S. and its economies over time. I completely agree with you, Julie. I think that is the direction, and I think in the times of COVID, paying attention to health and science are just simply critical.

[JH]: Let's hear it for the scientists and intellectuals. Where are my intellectuals?

[SR]: Well, then I feel compelled, I would not be doing my job as the dean of a law school to also say, this is a great time for the law, the rule of law. We've heard so much discussion that both of you have had with each other about the limits of law and the power of law to deal with crises as they emerge. I completely agree that the answers are both in medicine and in science and in thinking about, how our laws and regulations and policies can help us not only deal with the issues that exist right now, but to help us re-imagine or help us imagine what the future might be.

[MG]: Can I add to that Song? Also, and embrace that those answers can come from populations that we don't imagine it from. Right? As we look in California, so much of Silicon Valley happens to be from people all over the world. That's an important lesson for us as well, to get rid of the xenophobia and to understand that brilliance comes in many different packages. That, I think, will go a long way to helping us address these important questions of our times.

[JH]: Yeah, Song. Just maybe a closing thought here. This is not an American crisis or a Chinese crisis or an African crisis. This is a world crisis, and even more importantly, it's a humanitarian crisis. If something in our humanity can bring us together that says, "We're all suffering through this together," that, to me, would be one of the best silver linings.

[MG]: Hear hear.

[SR]: Hear hear.

[JH]: Cheers darlings.

[JH]: To all of you in the audience, thanks for sitting with us.

[SR]: Everyone in the audience, I want to thank you both so much for this insightful and powerful and illuminating discussion. You have certainly set the bar very high as the first in the COVID-19 & The Law series. I appreciate so much that you both took the time to talk about these important issues with us. So thank you. I also want to thank all the members of the audience for staying with us for this incredible discussion over the past hour, and I hope that you'll join us for the remainder of our series. Once again, thank you Julie Hill, thank you, Michele Goodwin, and thanks to all of you who have joined us for this important conversation.

[Narrator]: Thank you for joining us for UCI Law talks, produced by the University of California, Irvine School of Law.