coronavirus

Inslee v. De Blasio: Coronavirus Responses, Good and Bad

As it turns out, telling New Yorkers not to worry about the virus was a really bad idea.

The state of Washington seems to be a model of success in dealing with the coronavirus. What can we learn from that experience?  And how did Washington’s approach differ from that of another hotspot with about the same population, New York City? Let’s begin by taking a look at how the situation developed in Washington. …

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Does the Constitution Exempt Churches from Social Distancing?

Short answer: “No.” And it might even be unconstitutional for states to grant such exemptions.

Most religious groups have willingly complied with public health limits on large gatherings.  But not all.  These claims of religious exemption, and some states’ responses to them, raise important constitutional issues. There have been a couple of cases in the spotlight. Rodney Howard-Browne is a Florida preacher who prayed over Trump in the Oval Office …

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Is Saving Lives Unconstitutional?  A Response to John Yoo

Takings law is complicated, but the answer to this question is clear. The answer is no.

Like others on the extreme right, the Hoover Institution is campaigning against “stay at home” orders because they cost too much money.  Regrettably, the most recent argument to this effect on their website is by my colleague John Yoo.  He argues that the Constitution requires states to compensate business owners for their losses. That’s simply …

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Interpreting Models of Coronavirus Spread

Coronavirus

Models are crucial to making policy decisions during the epidemic, but you have to know how to use them.

This post works through an exercise in how to use and interpret models of disease spread.   Here are the takeaways for policy analysis: You need to know about a model’s sensitivity.  Particularly in settings where the specific numbers really matter, such as forecasting how many hospital beds will be needed, it’s important to take into …

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The Epstein Affair

A prominent law prof got COVID-19 numbers disastrously wrong.  Then things got worse.

The New Yorker recently published a devastating interview with law professor Richard Epstein. He had attracted their notice by publishing two columns on the Hoover Institution website, the first projecting a total of 500 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus (later raised to 5000), and the second defending his work.  I don’t see any need to …

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Transit-Oriented Development Shouldn’t Be A Coronavirus Casualty

California still needs more housing close to transit.

In recent weeks, California has emerged as one center of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it continues to face challenges that existed long before the disease reached the state.  Two serious ones: how California will meet its ever more stringent greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and how the state will manage to provide affordable housing for …

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The Environmental Pollution Agency Prioritizes Environmental Rollbacks While Dropping Environmental Enforcement

New Policy Allows Companies to Use Covid-19 As an Excuse to Pollute

The covid-19 epidemic is providing the Environmental Protection Agency with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate its priorities:  full speed ahead with environmental roll backs, including greenhouse gas/fuel economy standards for cars, cutting back on the regulation of mercury from power plants, loosening regulations on coal ash from coal plants and more.  Employees at EPA have …

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How the Coronavirus is (Not) Like Climate Change

Coronavirus

The two have some informative parallels, although some observers draw the wrong conclusions

The coronavirus dominates the news and much of our minds. Here at Legal Planet, we have written about the coronavirus and presidential powers, disaster declarations, fossil fuel production, decision-making under uncertainty, inequality, and cities. I will join the party and consider what are the parallels and differences between the coronavirus crisis and anthropogenic climate change, …

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Federalism and the Pandemic

For statutory, practical, and constitutional reasons, states are on the front line.

The states have been out in front in dealing with the coronavirus. Apart from Trump’s tardy response to the crisis, there are reasons for this, involving limits on Trump’s authority, practicalities, and constitutional rulings. Statutory limits. As I discussed in a previous post, the President’s power to deal with an epidemic is mostly derived from …

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Are Pandemics An Argument Against Cities?

COVID-19 spread shows governance matters more than density

With the COVID-19 virus shutting down cities and countries all over the world, anti-urban advocates are seizing the moment to argue that pandemics prove urban density is bad. For example, longtime sprawl booster Joel Kotkin argues that shelter-in-place orders and fear of contagion will push people to demand more lower-density homes, far from crowded and …

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