A bill introduced by a member of the New York State Assembly would amend the public health law, permitting the governor of the state to order the removal and/or detention of a person deemed to be a “suspected case, contact or carrier of a contagious disease” who would “pose an imminent and significant threat to the public health.” The person in question then would be “detained in a medical facility or other appropriate facility or premises designated by the governor.”
New York State Assembly Bill A416, introduced by Democrat Noah Nicholas Perry, has been read once and referred to the Committee on Health. It states:
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows: Removal and detention of cases, contacts and carriers who are or may be a danger to public health; other orders. The provisions of this section shall be utilized in the event that the governor declares a state of health emergency due to an epidemic of any communicable disease. Upon determining by clear and convincing evidence that the health of others is or may be endangered by a case, contact or carrier, or suspected case, contact or carrier of a contagious disease that, in the opinion of the governor, after consultation with the commissioner, may pose an imminent and significant threat to the public health resulting in severe morbidity or high mortality, the governor or his or her delegee, including, but not limited to the commissioner or the heads of local health departments, may order the removal and/or detention of such a person or of a group of such persons by issuing a single order, identifying such persons either by name or by a reasonably specific description of the individuals or group being detained.
Such person or group of persons shall be detained in a medical facility or other appropriate facility or premises designated by the governor or his or her delegee …
The bill also states, “Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, in no event shall any person be detained for more than sixty days without a court order authorizing such detention. The governor or his or her delegee shall seek further court review of such detention within ninety days following the initial court order authorizing detention and thereafter within ninety days of each subsequent court review.”
Cody Anderson, chair of the Libertarian Party of New York, denounced the bill, stating:
Let’s put aside for a moment the egregious privacy violation in issuing an order announcing an individual to be a health risk. This bill offers a clear and direct path to unconstitutional and indefinite detainment, on the governor’s sole authority. No U.S. state was ever meant to have a single person acting as judge and jury, without checks or balances; if this bill is allowed to pass, that is exactly what New York will have. We once again demand that legislative leaders be principled when they claim “My body, my choice” – they must not pick and choose.
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Author: Hank Berrien