COVID-19 and the Law: Law and Policy to Address Basic Needs and Marginalized Populations
For years, public health experts have been warning of a global pandemic so contagious that it would lead to massive devastation. Few nations across the globe heeded these warnings and every community now has to address both the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of policies shutting down most economic, social, and community activities. Law is both a tool to address these consequences and a domain experiencing serious effects, as law offices and courts shut down or moved to remote services. This colloquium series will bring members of the Harvard Law School community together to explore and assess, through interviews with a handful of related faculty experts each week, the legal responses to COVID-19 across areas of law ranging from laws governing health and health care, including drug development, public health, contact tracing and privacy; regulation of labor, safety, finance and debt, immigration; protection of basic human needs such as housing and food; and the scope and limitations of governmental powers operating in a pandemic. Colloquium sessions also will examine the particular impacts of the pandemic on law, courts, prisons, elections, and the legal profession, and opportunities for innovation and reform. More than 40 faculty members will share their insights and questions about the changes that are possible as localities, states, the U.S., and other nations continue to mobilize responses. With a particular focus on U.S. law and an emphasis on the urgent needs of marginalized populations, low-income and unemployed Americans, and people of color, the series will cover themes including individual rights vs. public safety, governance, polarization and disinformation, and inequalities.
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