Stanford Law School

Germ Warfare, Contagious Disease, and the Constitution

April 11, 2008
1:30-4:00 p.m.
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 50, Washington, DC

Jointly Sponsored by the Stanford Constitutional Law Center and the Constitution Project

A symposium on Germ Warfare, Contagious Disease, and the Constitution will take place on Capitol Hill on April 11, 2008 and is jointly sponsored by the Stanford Constitutional Law Center and the Constitution Project in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the symposium is to examine ways to reform federal law to allow agencies to respond to naturally occurring epidemics or terrorist use of biological weapons in a manner that protects constitutional rights.

Scientists, public health officials, emergency responders, legal scholars, and counterterrorist experts will address issues that arise in regard to quarantine and isolation, health surveillance, and compulsory medical treatment. Particular attention will be drawn to individual rights. The conversation will examine federalist concerns, preemption doctrine, and posse comitatus in the context of emerging threats.

Morning Session
The morning session, which is by invitation only, will center on a tabletop exercise that the Constitutional Law Center is developing with the Exercises Division at the Department of Homeland Security.  The thirty-five participants will focus on the federal government’s response to the release of a biological agent that crosses state lines.

Afternoon Session
In the afternoon we will open the conference to a broader audience, to allow more congressional staff members, members of administrative agencies, the media, academics, and others interested in these issues to attend. Dr. Margaret Hamburg, former Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, will open the session. Dean Kathleen Sullivan will chair the plenary panel, made up of prominent scholars as well as representatives from federal agencies, including Professor Robert Weisberg and Professor Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School; Professor Christopher Chyba, Director of the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Dr. Martin Cetron, Director, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Mr. Richard Clarke, former National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism; Professor Michael Greenberger, Director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland; and The Honorable Jeff Runge, Assistant Secretary, Department of Homeland Security. Following the plenary panel, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff will deliver the keynote address. The afternoon session begins at 1:30 pm and will be held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room SDG-50.

Late Afternoon Reception
The Stanford Alumni Association will host a reception for conference attendees and Stanford alumni after the close of the afternoon session, at 4:30 pm in Room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

Online registration will close on April 8, 2008. Registration at the door is welcome.