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March 23, 2020

ABA Legal Fact Check explores government's expanded authority during pandemic

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2020 — A new ABA Legal Fact Check posted today explores the legal and historical context for federal and state authorities to quarantine foreign arrivals, force businesses to close and require residents to stay home in the face of a health emergency, such as COVID-19.

As Covid-19 continues its assault on the country, never have state and federal powers been tested to the extent that we are seeing today. The new fact check examines how under the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment and U.S. Supreme Court decisions over nearly 200 years, state governments have the primary authority to control the spread of dangerous diseases within their jurisdictions. State governors can, for instance, issue quarantine, isolation and stay-at-home directives. The power of the federal government is much more limited.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. The URL for the site is

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