Public Health in the Shadow of the First Amendment

October 17-18, 2014

A Conference Hosted by Yale Law School, Yale Medical School, and the Yale School of Public HealthSponsored by the Information Society Project (ISP), the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP), and the Yale Health Law and Policy Society (YHeLPS),  with generous support from the Samuel and Liselotte Herman Fund for the Social and Behavioral Sciences at The Yale School of Public Health, and the Oscar M. Reubhausen Fund.

Public Health in the Shadow of the First Amendment will bring together leading scholars, key policy makers, and top experts in law, public health and medicine. This conference, the first of its kind, will investigate a broad range of complex constitutional issues raised at the intersection of medicine, public health, and the First Amendment.

The regulation of food, medicines, and tobacco all rely crucially today on the regulation of speech, for example through behavioral marketing, disclosures, and restrictions on certain modes of commercial promotion. First Amendment doctrine has recently changed in significant ways, bringing it into potentially deep tension with such measures. For example, commercial speech doctrine has been used to invalidate FDA restrictions on off-label marketing of drugs, to prevent graphic warnings on cigarette packages, and to challenge calorie disclosures in restaurants.

In addition, new and important questions about the limits of a legislature’s ability to mandate or forbid certain physician speech are emerging. For example, should the First Amendment protect doctors from requirements that they provide patients with ultrasounds or medically unproven “information” in the abortion context, or mental health providers from restrictions on conducting reparative therapy for gay teens? In cases such as these, courts and legislatures are also increasingly required to adjudicate questions of scientific merit. Many recent examples suggest reason for concern about the results.

Neither courts nor scholars have developed a consistent and coherent approach to these different areas. Experts in First Amendment law are rarely in a position to fully articulate the health consequences of these cases, and health experts rarely have the literacy in free speech law required to navigate these issues.

This conference will investigate these enormously important issues, with panels on food and drug regulation, behavioral marketing in the context of obesity, tobacco, and food policy, the regulation of professional conduct, First Amendment theory, and the intersection between science and democracy.

Videos from Day 1

Videos from Day 2

Readings Packet

Dean Post's Transcript

Guest Blog Links


Realizing the Right to Health: Stories and Strategies from the HIV Movement in India

October 16, 2014
Kajal Bhardwaj, lawyer and activist (New Delhi), a Tom and Andi Bernstein Human Rights Fellow, YLS & GHJP Fellow.


Power and Danger: Feminist Engagement with International Law through the UN Security Council

October 14, 2014
Dianne Otto, Melbourne Law School Ali Miller (YLS/YSPH/Jackson/GHJP)
Elisabeth Jean Wood, Yale's Political Science department.



MADE IN INDIA: Will India's Pro-Public Health Approach to Medicines Survive the Modi and Obama Administrations?

October 7, 2014
Unni Karunakara, Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, International President Médecins Sans Frontières (2010-2013). 
Kajal Bhardwaj, Tom and Andi Bernstein Human Rights Fellow, GHJP Fellow, lawyer and activist. 
Madhav Khosla (YLS LL.M. ‘10), Department of Government, Harvard University. 
Moderator:  Amy Kapczynski (YLS/GHJP).


Movie Screening: Fire in the Blood

March 26, 2014
Discussion with Amy Kapczynski (YLS/GHJP) 
Ali Miller (YLS/YSPH/Jackson/GHJP)
Gregg Gonsalves (YSPH/GHJP)



Is Obama Trading Away Health and Free Speech?

December 5, 2013
Margot Kaminski, (YLS)
Amy Kapczynski, (YLS/GHJP)
Krista L. Cox, (Knowledge Ecology International)



FAIA: Informal Conversation with Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights

October 30, 2013



Feminism and Hunger in the Tropics: A Talk by Olivier de Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

October 23, 2013



We Were Here: the AIDS Years in San Francisco Documentary Screening and Talkback with Director David Weissman

October 10, 2013



Screening of Act of Killing

October 4 & 5, 2013
Screening & Q&A with Director Joshua Oppenheimer (October 4)
Panel Discussion and Talkback with Director (October 5)


Prospects and Strategies for Reforming Workers' Compensation

April 5, 2013


In Sickness and in Wealth: The Health Effects of the Recession and Austerity

March 27, 2013
Sanjay Basu MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center



Evaluating Human Rights: Assessing the Impact of 5 Years of Research and Advocacy on Detention of Drug Users in Asia

March 6, 2013
Joe Amon, Director of the Health and Human Rights division at Human Rights Watch



Understanding the Marikana Massacre in South Africa

November 9, 2012
Fatima Hassan, GHJP Senior Fellow; Tom and Andi Bernstein Fellow at YLS; and South African human rights lawyer and activist 
Gregg Gonsalves, Co-Director, GHJP.
Moderated by: Ali Miller, Co-Director, GHJP



AIDS Activism: Perspectives from the U.S. and South Africa

November 9, 2012
Fatima Hassan, GHJP Senior Fellow in Residence; Tom and Andi Bernstein Fellow at YLS; and South African human rights lawyer and activist
Gregg Gonsalves, Co-Director, Global Health Justice Partnership; HIV and TB activist



The "War on Women"? Women's Health and Rights in the 2012 Presidential Election

October 24, 2012
Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), New Haven Congresswoman
In conversation with: Reva Siegel, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law, Yale Law School Linda Greenhouse, Knight Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School
Dr. Nancy Stanwood, Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Yale School of Medicine


A Life Defending Women's Reproductive Rights

October 18, 2012
Ward Cates, Public health advocate and pioneering epidemiologist in HIV/AIDS and women's reproductive health



A Dangerous Man: Lessons in Activism and the Pursuit of Social Justice

October 16, 2012
Zackie Achmat, South African activist and film director