The Roles of the State and Federal Governments in a Pandemic


Emily Berman’s paper explores the ways in which existing law and policy envision distinct pandemic-response roles for the state and federal governments, and distinct powers to fulfill those roles. 

It examines the United States’ coronavirus response and argues that the federal government failed to bring the full range of its powers to bear—and indeed, that it continues to do so—in ways that have undermined the states’ ability to mount an effective response.  

By Emily Berman

Associate Professor of Law, University of Houston Law Center.

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