v. Vermont

In 1989, Benning was charged with violating
a Vermont statute requiring helmet use by motorcycle riders. Although
the charge was dismissed, he sued to have the statute deemed unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs argued that the freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet
constituted one of the “natural, inherent, and inalienable rights”
guaranteed by the state constitution. In this case the court discusses
the relationship between individual freedom and government actions
to ensure safety.

Board of Nassau County, Florida v. Arline

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits federally
funded programs from discriminating against an individual solely based
on his handicap. In 1979, a Florida teacher was fired after her third
relapse of tuberculosis in two years. She sued, claiming that her
illness constituted a handicap and that her dismissal violated the
Act. Should the contagious effects of a disease be considered a handicap?

States v. Ottati & Goss, Inc.

The EPA brought this suit against several companies,
demanding that they clean up a superfund site in New Hampshire. After
10 years of litigation and tens of thousands of pages of evidence,
the case reached the Supreme Court. The case is multifaceted and involves
a wide array of issues. Perhaps most salient among them are the difficulties
that accompany the assessment of risk. In his opinion, Justice Breyer,
who has devoted considerable scholarly attention to this issue, lamented
the case’s “mazelike patterns of cross-references among regulations,
statutes, and ‘expert jargon.’”

Union Department, AFL-CIO v. American

Petroleum Institute

Pursuant to his authority under the Occupational
Safety and Health Act, the secretary of OSHA greatly reduced the
permissible level of benzene in the workplace. Having found that
benzene is linked with leukemia, the secretary promulgated this
standard believing it to be “reasonably necessary or appropriate
to provide safe or healthful employment and places of employment.”
But was such a drastic reduction necessary to ensure workers’ health?
Does the Act require workplaces to be risk-free? This case illustrates
the problems associated with regulating risks that are difficult
to quantify.