Summary of Legal Authorities for Use in Response to an Outbreak of Pandemic Influenza [April 25, 2009]   [open pdf - 770KB]

This memorandum was sent on April 25, 2009 from the U.S. Attorney General to the U.S. President regarding legal authorities for a federal response to an influenza emergency. From the document: "[a]s a precaution in light of reports regarding the possible spread of an influenza outbreak in Mexico, I outline below [in the memo] a brief summary of the major relevant legal authorities for a federal response to a pandemic influenza emergency. As outlined below, the Executive Branch has substantial authorities given by statute or regulation to various agencies that could be used to limit the spread of a pandemic. These include the authority to impose quarantines; control the borders; regulate transportation; and to coordinate with and provide assistance to state and local governments. While individual agencies are in the best position to describe the full extent of their legal authorities, the outline below reviews the major relevant legal authorities. I have also attached a memorandum I received from the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice which provides additional detail regarding these legal authorities." This attached memorandum is included in this document.

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