Villasenor Leads Dialogue on Civil Liberties During Epidemic

Public Policy Professor John Villasenor interviewed UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh for a podcast episode on “Civil Liberties in an Epidemic.” The episode, part of a series from the UCLA Institute for Technology, Law and Policy, was featured on Volokh’s blog for Reason magazine. Villasenor raised questions about border controls, legal bans on nonessential medical procedures and restrictions on religious assembly. The two also discussed location tracking on mobile phones to enable the government to monitor virus contamination, which raises concerns about privacy as well as unintended uses of the information. Volokh said that the 1905 Supreme Court decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts has come to be “understood not just as a precedent in favor of compulsory vaccination laws, but also as a precedent in favor of other restraints on liberty.” He noted that some restraints that would not be constitutionally permissible in normal times are permissible within the context of the pandemic.


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