Public Health & Civil Liberties Issues
During times of crises, those in authority want to act quickly and decisively to respond to public needs. At the same time, during perilous times government can do things that threaten civil rights.
Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional law professor at George Washington University, has stressed that this is because the government's attempt to grab power during a crisis operates a lot like a gas in a closed space. As you expand the space, the gas fills it completely and absolutely. And it is often hard to restrict that gas again. He notes that "in times of crisis is when that space expands and it often expands with very little foresight and very little consideration."
To that end, IHF encourages the public and policymakers to be very vigilant for infringements on civil liberties during national crises. The right to self-determination and privacy are especially important considerations to monitor during national public-health challenges.
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(Summary updated November 2009)