SMNR: Disaster Preparedness Law

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
MON 9:30 - 11:20 am CCJ 3.306

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This seminar will focus on the evolving field of disaster preparedness law. Specifically, we will review the state and federal powers to act during a natural or man-made disaster and the legal mechanisms and agencies that assist response. The state police powers under the 10th Amendment and the broad public health powers will be reviewed. Historical and current examples of disaster responses will be highlighted and dissected so that students can gain an appreciation for the response process. We will cover the 1918, 1957 and 1968 influenza pandemics and discuss concerns and preparations for a future pandemic. Other disasters such as the events of September 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina, the Oklahoma City bombing, the California fires and the Virginia Tech shooting will be discussed as well. In addition to the dissection of disaster events, this course will review the broad public health powers of the state. In particular, this seminar will focus on U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act and the conflict of broad public health powers with civil liberties. We will review the state's power to quarantine, track, examine and treat patients. In addition, we will discuss the state's power to seize materials and facilities and destroy objects in the interest of public health. Finally, we will consider the various federal powers to act during a disaster. We will discuss the role of federal agencies and departments including FEMA, DHS, DHHS, DoD, DoA and NOAA during a disaster. In addition, the role of the U.S. armed forces during a disaster will also be considered.
  • The police power of the state and the 10th Amendment
  • The threat of pandemic influenza - 1918, 1957, 1968 and today
  • Dissecting the events of September 11, 2001 - disaster response
  • The example of the Hurricane Katrina - What went wrong? What went right? The Houston response
  • Tarasoff, the Virginia Tech shooting and the duty to warn
  • The power to quarantine and broad public health powers - Jacobson v. Massachusetts
  • The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act - the state's broad powers to track, quarantine, isolate, treat, examine, seize and destroy
  • Civil liberties versus the police power of the state
  • Federal powers in a public health emergency - Secretary of Health and Human Services, Surgeon General, and CDC&P
  • Posse Comitatus Act and Insurrection Act
  • NDMS, DMAT, FEMA, Homeland Security
  • Surge capacity in emergency departments - EMTALA
  • State compacts for mutual assistance


Headshot of Davis, Harold C Davis, Harold C
Headshot of Mareiniss, Darren P Mareiniss, Darren P
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