New NY State Bill Would Allow the Governor to 'Order the Removal and Detention' of People With Infectious Diseases

Brittany M. Hughes | January 4, 2021
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A new measure up for consideration in the New York State Assembly would allow for any person who contracts, may have contracted, or is "suspected" of having come into contact with a potentially deadly contagious disease to be forcibly detained at the governor's - or his lackey's - direction and held by the state in a "facility" for up to two months without a court order.

If that sounds like a draconian measure that's been used by dictators throughout history to forcibly detain people they don't like - well, that's because it is.

A new measure proposed by a New York state lawmaker would amend the state’s health laws to allow the governor to forcibly detain and virtually imprison anyone who may be a carrier of an infectious disease during a "public health emergency." 

“suspected case, contact or carrier of a contagious disease” who would “pose an imminent and significant threat to the public health.”

Assembly Bill A416, filed by Democrat Noah Nicholas Perry, would allow for any person carrying – or even suspected of carrying or having come into contact with – a contagious deadly disease to be forcibly detained in a “facility” that has been “designated by the governor or his or her delegee” during a public health emergency.

The bill, which has already been referred to the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Health reads in part:

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows: Removal and detention of cases, contacts and carriers who are or may be a danger to public health; other orders. The provisions of this section shall be utilized in the event that the governor declares a state of health emergency due to an epidemic of any communicable disease. Upon determining by clear and convincing evidence that the health of others is or may be endangered by a case, contact or carrier, or suspected case, contact or carrier of a contagious disease that, in the opinion of the governor, after consultation with the commissioner, may pose an imminent and significant threat to the public health resulting in severe morbidity or high mortality, the governor or his or her delegee, including, but not limited to the commissioner or the heads of local health departments, may order the removal and/or detention of such a person or of a group of such persons by issuing a single order, identifying such persons either by name or by a reasonably specific description of the individuals or group being detained.

Such person or group of persons shall be detained in a medical facility or other appropriate facility or premises designated by the governor or his or her delegee.

The bill also allows the state to detain a person for a full 60 days without a court order, then allows for indefinite detainment in 90-day increments based on "court review," stating:

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, in no event shall any person be detained for more than sixty days without a court order authorizing such detention. The governor or his or her delegee shall seek further court review of such detention within ninety days following the initial court order authorizing detention and thereafter within ninety days of each subsequent court review.

All of which, of course, runs afoul not only of basic decency, but also of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which expressly states that the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” – a provision that doesn’t allow for a person to be forcibly seized and detained simply because the state arbitrarily “suspects” they may have come into contact with someone with a contagious disease.

But if you're a New Yorker concerned about your freedom being arbitrarily violated by the state, never fear! The bill also states that a person can't be detained "after the department determines, with the exercise of due diligence, that the suspected case was not infected with such a disease, or was not contagious at the time the contact was exposed to such individual, [or] after the department determines that the contact no longer presents a potential danger to the health of others."

What a relief.