YLS Community Shares Expertise on COVID-19

Photo credit: Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAMS, courtesy of the CDC

Members of the Yale Law School community are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, offering expertise in their respective fields from health care to national security to the economy. Below is a list of news clips and stories organized by topic outlining just some of the different ways our faculty, students, centers and clinics are contributing to the dialogue and making a difference during this unprecedented moment. To view the work by topic area, click the subject of interest below.

Health Law
Criminal Justice
Immigration Law
U.S.-China Relations
International Law and National Security
Economics and the Workplace
Environmental Law
Legal History


In early March, faculty from the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale Law School Professor Amy Kapczynski ’03 and epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves were part of a group of experts who sounded the alarm about widespread infection in the country and called on the government to act by considering new legislation, implementing important policies, and enacting spending measures. Since then, they have continued to lead the charge offering ideas and solutions in the debate over public health and personal rights.

WATCH: Kapczynski and Gonsalves participated in a Yale University virtual town hall answering questions from the public on the COVID-19 pandemic. The experts gathered via videoconferencing to address questions about disease symptoms; worst-case scenarios; protecting yourself and your family; coping with changing routines; legal rights; and Yale’s and New Haven’s responses to COVID-19.

GHJP has produced a fact sheet with information and links for Connecticut residents on protecting their rights during the response to COVID-19.

Kapczynski and Gonsalves have published three commentaries about the crisis in the Boston Review titled “Alone Against the Virus,” “Markets v. Lives,” and “The New Politics of Care.” They were interviewed by Democracy Now! about public health policy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Kapcynski took part in a Washington Post Q&A about the progress in finding a vaccine for COVID-19. Kapczynski and Professor Michael Wishnie ’93 were quoted in the New York Times about quarantine procedures in Connecticut during the Ebola scare in 2014.

READ: All the latest updates from GHJP on the implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past several weeks, faculty, staff, and students from the Solomon Center for Health Law & Policy at Yale Law School have been working on many areas of COVID-related health and legal policy, including easing restrictions to telehealth; expanding health care access to students now home from universities; and opposing executive orders that have restricted access to abortion during the pandemic. Led by Professor Abbe R. Gluck ’00, the Center has also been putting forth important ideas for improving federal legislation and working in New Haven through innovative Medical Legal Partnerships to deliver on-the-ground assistance to those in need, including the incarcerated population and immigration detainees. Read more details about how the Solomon Center is tackling pressing legal and health issues related to COVID-19

Professor Gluck, faculty director of the Solomon Center, has been part of a team of experts building a blueprint for federal legal assistance and coronavirus legislation. The group also includes Yale Law School student Erica Turret ’20. The group outlined their plan in a commentary on Health Affairs. The blueprint was cited in a New Yorker article, titled “What Would a Proper Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Look Like?”

On the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Professor Gluck and Erica Turret wrote a commentary for Health Affairs about how much worse the COVID-19 pandemic would be if we did not have the protections and coverage of the ACA.

On April 13, Professor Gluck wrote a commentary in the Washington Post with Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, titled “What happens when our insurance is tied to our jobs, and our jobs vanish?” She was also quoted in Bloomberg Law on the administration’s refusal to reopen the Affordable Care Act exchanges during the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor  Gluck was quoted in a Washington Post article about how governors have handled the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on their states.


A class action lawsuit filed on March 26 by the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic seeks the release of people in civil immigration detention who are at imminent risk of COVID-19 infection due to conditions at the Bristol County (MA) House of Corrections. The case has been covered by numerous news outlets.

The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and partners filed a class action lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons on April 27, 2020 seeking to require federal officials to provide emergency measures to protect the more than 1,000 women and men within the low security federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut from COVID-19.

Faculty, fellows, and affiliates of The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law have been working to improve the safety of as many people as possible during the COVID-19 crisis. The work includes legal actions to decrease the number of people in detention, advocating for incarcerated individuals at risk due the COVID-19, halting evictions, and protecting immigrants. Led by the Arthur Liman Professor of Law and Founding Director Judith Resnik, the Liman Center is filing motions and declarations in court cases across the country, contributing to critical dialogue in the press, and compiling vital resources from data sources to help those in need. Professor Resnik has written several pieces in the press, including a commentary for Bloomberg Law that outlines how protecting prisoners from pandemics is a Constitutional imperative.

The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and the Advanced Sentencing Clinic filed a lawsuit on Friday, April 3, 2020, in conjunction with the ACLU of Connecticut, seeking an immediate reduction of the prison population in Connecticut Department of Corrections (DOC) prisons due to the disastrous impact the spread of COVID-19 may have on these facilities. The Clinic also released a set of national recommendations to address the crisis of COVID-19 in prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers across the United States.

The Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) at the Law School represents the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress and 10 other veterans groups and advocacy organizations in calling on the state of Connecticut to immediately release certain incarcerated veterans and other vulnerable persons. The clinic also represents an 80-year-old disabled former Marine and Navy sailor incarcerated in Connecticut who is seeking release due to COVID-19. In addition, the clinic and its partners have put together FAQs for Veterans surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the clinic represents a 51-year-old disabled veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder currently incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution seeking emergency relief.

Executive Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights Hope R. Metcalf spoke to WSHU about conditions at a Connecticut correctional institution where prisoners with symptoms of COVID-19 are being housed.

Professor Issa Kohler Hausman ’08 co-authored a commentary in the Madison Cap Times titled "Coronavirus pandemic calls for safe releases from jails, prisons.”

Professor Abbe Gluck co-wrote a commentary in the CT Post with colleagues about how COVID-19 threatens to overrun Connecticut’s jails and prisons.


In addition to the work on behalf of ICE detainees in Bristol County Mass., the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic submitted a letter to the Supreme Court urging the court to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on DACA recipients and in particular, their vital role in the health care sector. WIRAC represents Dreamers in a case pending before the Supreme Court which has garnered extensive coverage in the national press.

Professor Muneer Ahmad, Deputy Dean for Experiential Education, and Ramis Wadood ’21, are also quoted in a New York Times story about this work. In addition, it was covered in USA Today and many other national outlets.

Professor Cristina Rodríguez '00 co-authored a commentary on Just Security titled “Trump’s COVID-19 Immigration Proclamation May Be Legal, But It’s Still an Abuse of Power.” She also talked to the Yale School of Management about the consequences of the federal government's executive order on immigration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 3, Professor Abbe Gluck joined with general counsel's from three health care systems to publish an op-ed in the New York Times warning about the dire effects on the health care system if DACA recipients working in the field are no longer protected. Professor Gluck was also a guest on ABC News on April 15 where she discussed the impact of ending the DACA program in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Paul Tsai China Center has been actively engaged in a range of efforts addressing issues at the intersection of COVID-19 and U.S.-China relations. Under the leadership of the Center’s director Professor Paul Gewirtz and executive director Robert Williams, Tsai Center faculty and fellows are leading public calls for global pandemic response cooperation; working to secure urgently needed medical equipment from China; organizing and participating in bilateral strategic dialogues and medical professional exchanges; conducting research and engaging with U.S. and Chinese counterparts on pressing legal and regulatory issues; and maintaining a database of Chinese medical and legal authority related to the pandemic.

Tsai Center faculty have organized and participated in numerous “virtual” public events, workshops, and also Track Two diplomatic dialogues with Chinese counterparts on the implications of COVID-19 for U.S.-China relations. Additionally, the Center’s faculty and fellows have been widely cited in the media and have published in a variety of leading outlets on COVID-19. Read a more comprehensive update on this important work.

Professor of Law Taisu Zhang ’08 spoke to Politico about how the U.S. response to the coronavirus is being perceived.

Paul Tsai China Center Senior Fellow Susan Thornton participated in an Intelligence Squared debate about coronavirus, China, and geopolitics.


Professor Oona A. Hathaway ’97 and Jacob S. Hacker, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University, published a commentary on Just Security titled “Universal Health Care is a National Security Issue.” Hathaway also wrote another commentary in Just Security titled “COVID-19 Shows How the U.S. Got National Security Wrong.”

The Lowenstein Clinic submitted a letter to the United Nations arguing that isolating sick prisoners in Connecticut’s Northern Correctional Institution, a facility the letter calls “punitive by design,” violates international law. The letter contends that inflicting solitary confinement on incarcerated COVID-19 patients amounts to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners, which international law prohibits. The April 22nd letter is the second submission that the Clinic has made to the UN regarding inhumane practices at Northern, Connecticut’s only supermax prison. Read more.

Professor Harold Hongju Koh was interviewed for a Bloomberg podcast where he discusses attempts to sue the sovereign state of China for starting the Coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Taisu Zhang ’08 and Robert Williams, executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center, are included in a Washington Post survey about whether China can be held legally accountable for COVID-19 damages in the United States.

Professor Paul W. Kahn ’80 wrote a commentary in The Hill titled "National security matters more than ever in new era of coronavirus crisis."

Professor Stephen L. Carter ’79 wrote a commentary in Bloomberg about whether China can be sued over the coronavirus.

Professor Lea Brilmayer is quoted in an NPR story about Missouri’s bid to sue China over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.


Several dozen Law School students are working together to offer support to organizations in the greater New Haven community as they confront the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last few weeks, the Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development (CED) and the student-run COVID Student Small Business Support Project have worked together to develop educational materials and access to legal services for New Haven’s small business community. The initiative was spotlighted in the Connecticut Law Tribune.

Professor Daniel Markovits ’00 wrote a commentary in the New York Times titled “A Wealth Tax Is the Logical Way to Support Coronavirus Relief.”

Professor Anne L. Alstott ’87 wrote a commentary in the Boston Review titled “Mothering in a Pandemic.”

Professor Yair Listokin ’05 wrote in a commentary for CNN Business that we need targeted spending and regulatory interventions that promote virtual goods and services to stimulate the economy while promoting public health. He also explores the economic implications of the pandemic in this Yale Law Q&A.

Ford Foundation Professor of Law and Social Sciences Vicki Schultz was quoted in Bloomberg Law about how the coronavirus pandemic workplace discrimination claims by racial minorities and the disabled.

Professor John Morley ’06 was quoted in Bloomberg News about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting small players in the asset management field.

Professor Paul Kahn ’80 coauthored a commentary in The Hill wth Kiel Brennan-Marquez ’11 about the perils of incrementalism in reopening the economy.

Professor David Schleicher wrote a commentary for Slate about economic challenges to states during the pandemic.


Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy Daniel C. Esty ’86 wrote for The Hill about lessons from COVID-19 on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Esty was also interviewed for a Q&A in the New York Times about lessons to be learned from the coronavirus pandemic that can be applied to efforts for action on climate change.

Viveca Morris, Associate Research Scholar in Law and the Executive Director of the Law, Ethics & Animals Program wrote a commentary in the Los Angeles Times about how the coronavirus pandemic is related to our treatment of animals and the environment.

Viveca Morris and Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law Jennifer Skene ’14 spoke to award-winning author Sonia Shah, author of “Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond,” on the When We Talk About Animals podcast about the history of viral infections and how our treatment of animals and the planet — via the burning of fossil fuels, biodiversity loss, deforestation, factory farming, the wildlife trade, and more — is driving the eruption and spread of infectious diseases.


In the Yale Review, Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law John Fabian Witt ’99 wrote about the history of public health crises and the law.

“For better and for worse, past American public health emergencies have reproduced the preexisting patterns and practices of law and politics, with all the vices and perhaps some of the virtues those patterns entail, reinforcing rather than revising the major themes of American life.”

Witt has also produced a series of short Zoom lectures on the legal history of epidemics and infectious diseases in the U.S. that are accessible to the public online.

Read the latest news and commentaries from Yale Law School students here.