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Germ Warfare, Contagious Disease and The Constitution


April 11, 2008 1:30pm - 4:00pm

Stanford Law School
Crown Quadrangle
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610

Germ Warfare, Contagious Disease, and the Constitution will take place at the U.S. Capitol on April 11, 2008.  The purpose of the symposium, which is jointly sponsored by the Stanford Constitutional Law Center and the Constitution Project in Washington, D.C., is to examine federal, state and local legislation allowing government agencies to respond to naturally occurring epidemics or terrorist use of biological weapons—and constitutional challenges that might arise from implementation of these laws.

Scientists, public health officials, emergency responders, legal scholars, and experts in counterterrorism will address legal issues that arise in regard to quarantine and isolation, health surveillance, and compulsory medical treatment.  Particular attention will be paid 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 Stanford 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.

The Stanford Law Society of Washington D.C. will host a reception at the close of the afternoon session, tentatively scheduled for the Hart Room in Dirksen Senate Office Building.  All conference attendees are invited to attend.

Register at:

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