The New York State Legislature granted
the Public Health Council regulatory authority to protect the public’s
health. Using this authority, the Council promulgated a comprehensive
set of regulations to control smoking in public places. But did the
Council overstep its bounds and usurp the Legislature’s power?
and Drug Administration v. Brown & Williamson
The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act grants the
FDA the power to regulate “drugs” and medical “devices.”
Holding that cigarettes are devices designed to deliver the drug nicotine,
the FDA promulgated regulations aimed at reducing smoking among children
and adolescents. Included in the regulations were measures to control
promotion, sales practices, and advertising. In this case, the Supreme
Court considers whether Congress truly intended for the FDA to regulate
cigarettes or whether the agency overstepped its delegated authority.
v. American Trucking Associations, Inc.
Pursuant to the Clean Air Act, the EPA
periodically sets and reviews air quality standards for specified
air pollutants. The respondent challenged this practice, arguing that
the Clean Air Act delegated unconstitutional legislative power to
the agency. Further, the respondent argued, the agency should consider
the economic consequences of regulation before deciding upon final
standards. Justice Scalia responds to each of these issues in this
important test of the non-delegation doctrine.
To enforce safety and other regulations,
officials must periodically inspect residences and places of businesses.
When a residence is involved, officials must obtain a warrant before
conducting an inspection against the wishes of the homeowner. But
what kind of safeguards apply when officials want to make an administrative
inspection of a business?
York v. Burger
Acting in accordance with a New York State
law regulating automotive junkyards, police inspected the respondent’s
junkyard and found stolen cars and parts. At trial, the junkyard owner
argued that the law authorizing the warrantless inspection violated
his Fourth Amendment rights. Should the expectation of privacy and
the warrant requirement vary according to the nature of the business
v. West Virginia
A nineteenth-century West Virginia law
required physicians to be certified by the Board of Health and to
submit proof of attending a “reputable medical college.”
Although professional licensing is now a well-established component
of public health’s regulatory authority, the petitioner in this 1888
case argues that such regulation unjustly denied him his economic
v. South Carolina Coastal Council
Intending to build two residences, petitioner
Lucas purchased two lots on the South Carolina coast. Two years later,
the legislature passed the Beachfront Management Act, which barred
Lucas from constructing his homes. Although the authority to prevent
“harmful or noxious uses” of public property falls within
the state’s police power, should Lucas be compensated for having his
property stripped of all economic value?
Morris, Inc. v. Harshbarger
Morris, Inc. v. Reilly
Massachusetts has long been on the vanguard
of tobacco control, and more than one of the Commonwealth’s tobacco
regulations have ended up challenged before the Supreme Court. In
this case, the Department of Public Health required tobacco companies
to submit lists of the ingredients contained in their cigarettes.
These ingredient lists are closely-guarded trade secrets, and the
companies responded by arguing that the regulation constituted a regulatory
v. New York
A New York State law barred bakers from working
more than sixty hours per week – ostensibly a measure to ensure health
and safety. In this seminal case, Justice Peckham outlines the relationship
between the states’ police power and the freedom to contract that
will define an entire era of jurisprudence. Compare Lochner
(ch. 7), decided only two months earlier.
Regulation of Nuisances in the American Colonies
Appearing in the October, 1923 issue of the American Journal
of Public Health, this article by Elizabeth Tandy provides a
detailed history of legal responses to public health nuisances in
colonial times. At first, authorities abated nuisances for the comfort
of the colonists in order to maintain a clean living environment.
Later, nuisances were abated to prevent the spread of contagious
disease. Although knowledge of medicine and biology were limited
at the time, Tandy provides strong evidence that nuisance abatement
for the public’s health were a key part of early legislation and
of New York v. New Saint Mark’s Baths
In 1985, responding to the emergence of the
AIDS epidemic, the New York State Public Health Council authorized
local officials to close any facility “in which high risk sexual
activity takes place.” Acting pursuant to this regulation, officials
shut down a bath house as a public health nuisance. This case discusses
the conflicts between nuisance abatement, the rights to privacy and
free assembly, and the protection of public health during the early
years of AIDS.