Categories: Health Law


Charo, R. Alta

Course Data

Room 5223
MWF 9:00am-9:55am

Pass/Fail: No

Past Grade Distributions

Course Description


Ensuring the health and wellbeing of citizens is among the fundamental goals of American government. While governments at all levels have varying degrees of power to provide for the public’s health, government action to protect health and well-being may conflict with constitutionally-protected rights of individuals. Thus, the question that lawyers, legislators, judges, and public health authorities must consider when contemplating government action is the extent to which the state may restrain citizens for the promotion of health, safety, and morals. This course will explore the legal foundations of the American public health system and the resulting struggle between individual liberties and the government’s interest in providing for its citizens' collective health and wellbeing.

The goal is to provide students with the ability to understand: (1) structure and functions of the public health system; (2) the role of government (including judiciary), community, and individual involvement in public health; and (4) the tensions between governmental interests in public health and individual interests in liberty.


Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
(1) describe and critique the authority of the state and federal government to limit personal freedom, economic transactions and land management for the purpose of promoting public health
(2) distinguish between the legality and the politics of various public health policy choices
(3) appreciate the interplay between immigration, race, class, geography, and education in the history and formation of public health policy

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