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February 10, 1912


Author Affiliations

Professor of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School CHICAGO

JAMA. 1912;LVIII(6):393-395. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04260020077002

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Generally health departments originate in times of emergency, as each new activity is the result of some unusual demand. This being true, we are prepared to find that health ordinances and laws are, as a rule, very unskilfully drawn. They fit much more accurately the basic community need than they do the technical requirements of legal procedure. Individuals are constantly battling to gain larger rights over the community, and each decision which is given them is used as a precedent on which others stand and battle for further limitations of the right of the community to protect itself.

For these reasons there is great need that health departments should have their laws and ordinances carefully studied by constitutional lawyers to make them meet the legal requirements as well as the sanitary and economic demands. Fundamentally, every man has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but no

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