A Rightful Place for Public Health in American Law

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 30 (2):302-304 (2002)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The practice of law has changed greatly since the days when judges based decisions on the maxim salus populi suprema lex, and Oliver Wendell Holmes disagreed, noting that “experience” has been the “life of the law.” In the intervening years, the profession has followed Holmes and the legal realists in recognizing that the law does not exist in a vacuum. It is a human endeavor, molded by experiences and filled with human consequences. Today, lawyers, jurists, and legal scholars everywhere on the political spectrum recognize the importance of social context, history, and a variety of non-legal disciplines, and non-legal insights to the intelligent practice of the law Unfortunately, in rejecting the old maxims, the legal profession also lost sight of the fundamental truth of salus populi suprema lex, Latin for “the health of the people is the highest law” - namely, it has lost sight of the truth that a population’s health is a critical part of law’s social context. One of the consequences of this is that the profession has failed to include public health - the study of the causes and prevention of disease, disability, and death in populations - among the non-legal disciplines regularly incorporated into legal analysis and routinely taught to all would-be lawyers. It is time to correct this oversight.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,873

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Public Health Literacy for Lawyers.Wendy E. Parmet & Anthony Robbins - 2003 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 31 (4):701-713.
J. S. mill and the american law of quarantine.Wendy E. Parmet - 2008 - Public Health Ethics 1 (3):210-222.
From Health Care Reform to Public Health Reform.Micah L. Berman - 2011 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 39 (3):328-339.
The Individual Mandate: Implications for Public Health Law.Wendy E. Parmet - 2011 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 39 (3):401-413.
Public Health and Public Goods.Jonny Anomaly - 2011 - Public Health Ethics 4 (3):251-259.
Reciprocity and Neuroscience in Public Health Law.A. M. Viens - 2011 - In Michael Freeman (ed.), Law and Neuroscience. Oxford University Press.
After September 11: Rethinking Public Health Federalism.Wendy E. Parmet - 2002 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 30 (2):201-211.
Ethics, Prevention, and Public Health.Angus Dawson & Marcel Verweij (eds.) - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
The limits of public health: A response.Mark A. Rothstein - 2009 - Public Health Ethics 2 (1):84-88.
Philosophy in American Public Life.Jorge J. E. Gracia - 2001 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 11:129-140.
Due Process and Public Health.Wilfredo Lopez, Wendy E. Parmet, Francis Schmitz & David Benor - 2007 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 35 (s4):33-38.


Added to PP

15 (#971,048)

6 months
7 (#486,337)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?