The ACLU-CT fights to protect the civil liberties of all people. This includes a person’s right to be free from imprisonment without reason. Quarantining someone is imprisoning them, meaning they are entitled to due process of law. Though it is the responsibility of the government to ensure public safety when it comes to dangerous diseases, the government must weigh public safety with the individual rights of people who are quarantined, in an effort to ensure that both public health and the Constitution prevail in times of crisis.
During the recent Ebola scare in the United States, multiple Connecticut residents were unconstitutionally quarantined by the state after traveling from Ebola-affected countries. The state quarantined, without due process, Liberian immigrants and public health workers who were asymptomatic and had not come into contact with anyone with Ebola symptoms. We need to learn from the state’s mishandling of the U.S. Ebola scare, so Connecticut responds to future health scares with smart policies based on scientific evidence, public health, and the Constitution, not reactive policies based on misinformation and political grandstanding. Punitive and scientifically baseless approaches violate the law and make us less safe.
The ACLU-CT therefore supports this bill, which would help to ensure that people’s due process rights are protected when the state reacts to a health emergency or alleged health emergency.