New faculty appointments
April 18, 2023
Harvard Law School expands the ranks of its faculty with four appointments.
Carmel Shachar named assistant clinical professor of law
April 14, 2023
Carmel Shachar J.D./M.P.H. ’10 has been appointed assistant clinical professor and faculty director of the Health Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School.
The surprising science of how pregnancy begins
April 12, 2023
Pregnancy is often talked about as though it’s a light switch. You’re a regular person walking around and then a switch flips — presto, you’re…
Could a California lawsuit lower the cost of insulin in the US?
January 25, 2023
Harvard Law expert Carmel Shachar says if California wins its suit against drug manufacturers, it could make the lifesaving drug more affordable for everyone.
Boston’s City Worker Vaccine Mandate Tests Power of Unions
January 6, 2023
The power of unions to bargain over workplace health measures is at stake as the Massachusetts high court decides whether to allow a Covid-19 vaccine…
Abortion, Preventive Care Are Among Top 2023 Health Law Issues
January 3, 2023
Health-care lawyers will be busy helping clients comply with or fight changing precedents on issues from abortion to drug pricing and the False Claims Act…
‘He showed me what it meant to lead with love’
December 14, 2022
Harvard Law Clinical Professor Robert Greenwald retires after a long career securing health care access for vulnerable populations.
How the Dobbs abortion ruling reshaped America’s privacy debate, from health to politics and law
October 14, 2022
Dobbs’ biggest impact in a legal sense is around the right to privacy, which is not codified in the Constitution but has been established by…
The Petrie-Flom Center hosted ‘Roe in limbo: A town hall on the leaked Dobbs opinion.’
When it comes to removing mask mandates, who should decide — the law, or public health?
April 25, 2022
This week, a federal judge struck down the CDC’s authority to mandate masks on public transportation, a move that many health officials oppose. Experts on Greater Boston told Jim Braude that decisions like those shouldn’t be left up to the legal system. "I think it's disappointing that a judge was actually the decision maker. I think even if the mandate is coming to an end, it seems like a sorry end to kind of the authority of the CDC in our public health arena,” said Dr. Louise Ivers, executive director of MGH Center for Global Health. Although some people celebrated the end of masking on planes and public transportation, others worry about the spread of coronavirus, especially to the elderly and young children. "I think from a social point of view, it's a really unsatisfying answer to say 'okay, well, people should just decide," said Carmel Shachar, executive director of Harvard Petrie-Flom Center.
The vaccine mandate for health-care workers will likely remain firm even as other cornerstones of President Joe Biden’s pandemic response dissolve with the administration’s messaging that the U.S. is in a new phase of the pandemic. The mandate requires health-care workers at facilities paid by Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated or they risk loss of funding. It was written at the peak of the delta variant surge. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Medicare agency’s mandate as the omicron variant ripped through the U.S. health-care system. ... But “the federal government is not a particularly nimble entity. It’s not designed to turn on a dime,” said Carmel Shachar, executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.
Faculty Books in Brief: Winter 2022
January 31, 2022
A wide range of books by faculty, from a collection of essays on the ethics of consumer genetic testing to a look at the fate of constitutional institutions in populist regimes to a delightful children's book by a legal philosopher
Weighing President Biden’s first year
January 18, 2022
In this series, Harvard Law experts turn a critical eye to the Biden administration’s efforts on health care, the economy, criminal justice reform, and other areas important to Americans — and share their thoughts on its agenda for the future.
Grocery store employee Leilani Jordan died of covid-19 at the start of the pandemic. Her mom wants justice.
January 11, 2022
Zenobia Shepherd can’t wrap her mind around her daughter’s death. Her heart won’t let her. Leilani Jordan, who had developmental challenges and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, died in April 2020 of complications from covid-19. She was 27 and working in a Maryland grocery store when she fell ill and days later became one of the first faces of the pandemic’s devastating death toll. ... Carmel Shachar, the executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, said the question of whether an employer is liable if a worker is exposed to the coronavirus in the workplace is “is still fairly novel because the pandemic is still a fairly new phenomenon.” “Litigation around covid-19 workplace exposure has been increasing over the last year, and will likely continue to increase with the omicron explosion of cases,” Shachar said in an email.
An op-ed by Carmel Shachar and I. Glenn Cohen: “There are three quarters of a million new [COVID] cases yesterday. . . [t]hat is 10 times as many as when OSHA put in this ruling. The hospitals are today, yesterday, full. . . . Can you ask us—is that what you are doing now—to stop this vaccination rule with nearly one million people, nearly three quarters of a million people, new cases every day?” This was the dramatic question asked on Friday by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer of Scott Keller, one of the attorneys seeking a stay of an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) promulgated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) in the case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor. This so called “Test-or-Vaccinate” mandate requires employers across the country with more than 100 employees to implement either vaccination or testing and masking policies for their employees. A majority of the Justices seem poised to endorse not only a temporary stay of the standard, but a permanent injunction against OSHA’s power to act, and the country will be worse for it.
Glenn Cohen and Carmel Shachar reflect on the administration’s successes, failures, and agenda for the future.
Chris Lambert, a small business owner in Indiana, says he has encouraged his eight employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But for a variety of reasons – including the fact that 90% of them are already inoculated – he has not taken the step that so many in his position are grappling with across the country. ... Only 3.3% of small businesses in Indiana required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work over a recent weeklong stretch – the smallest percentage among the more than 30 states that reported data, according to a report released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey. Nationwide, only about 13% of such businesses require workers to show proof of inoculation, according to the census statistics, which were collected between Dec. 6 to 12. ... States in the Northeast and on the West Coast are more likely to see small businesses mandate employee vaccination, while Southern and Midwestern states are less likely, according to the bureau. ... The regional trend doesn’t surprise Carmel Shachar, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics. The differences follow the same pattern seen with other pandemic public health measures, she says, in which states where there are fewer mask requirements or lower vaccination rates are also the ones “that are being really supportive of employee pushback against vaccine mandates.” She adds: “I think the politicization of public health has a lot to do with it. But then I think some of it also goes to different areas of our country have different traditions and different cultural assumptions when it comes to balancing public health, individual liberties, respect for scientific expertise.”
12 Questions About COVID Vaccine Mandates at Work—Answered
October 12, 2021
The science is clear: COVID-19 vaccines drastically reduce the chance of hospitalization or death from the disease and will help us get out of the pandemic that’s claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. But even so, months after the shots became available for all adults in the country, tens of millions remained unvaccinated. ... Though school and healthcare workers have long been required to get vaccinated for a number of diseases—like measles, mumps, and rubella (the MMR vaccination) or even the flu—the upcoming COVID requirements are much more extensive in nature. “We’ve had vaccine mandates before, but they haven’t been quite as broadly applied,” says Carmel Shachar, the executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. Because of this, it’s not immediately clear how they’ll work.