Toward a Population-Based Legal
Analysis: The Supreme Beef Case
The population perspective constructs a new story.
—Dan E. Beauchamp and Bonnie Steinbock,
New Ethics for Public Health
AFTER DECADES IN THE SHADOWS, public health law has begun to reemerge as a vibrant field within American law, albeit one that remains largely in the margins of legal discourse and education.1 In the wake of AIDS, the anthrax attacks on the U.S. mail, and the decadeslong battle against tobacco, practitioners and scholars have come to appreciate both the importance and richness of public health law. Both ancient questions, such as the government's power to quarantine, and new questions, such as the admissibility of epidemiological evidence in mass tort litigation, have become the subject of research, debate, legislation, and litigation.
Population-based legal analysis draws from this revival but goes beyond it in some critical ways. First, recognizing that the protection of population health is a goal of law itself and not simply of public health law, population-based legal analysis extends its reach beyond those topics and questions that have traditionally been viewed as falling within the boundaries of public health law. In other words, population-based legal analysis does not limit its scope to core public health laws or the law's response to perceived public health threats. Second, although public