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ACLU Official: Quarantines For Returning Medical Workers Raise Constitutional Issues

(CBS) -- The executive director of the Illinois ACLU says it's good news that New Jersey is freeing nurse Kaci Hickox from quarantine, well ahead of the end of the mandatory 21-day period. The story from WBBM's Regine Schlesinger.

New Jersey, as well as New York and Illinois have each implemented a mandatory 21-day quarantine for medical workers returning from West Africa. Colleen Connell says states do have some leeway in restricting constitutional rights in a public health emergency. But, she says, that's not blanket permission to throw out constitutional protections.

"The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution prohibit government from depriving a person of his or her liberty to move about freely without due process of law," Connell said.


While home confinement is more humane, it too is an issue of civil liberties.

"If there is no evidence that the person being confined is actually infected with Ebola or contagious, you still have some civil liberties concerns raised," Connell said.

Connell sees the mandatory quarantines as an overreaction and a demonstration of the pitfalls of when politicians rather than public health experts make policy.

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