Beauchamp’s argument in favor of limiting individual liberty for the common good is consistent with his view of public health as social justice. Death and disability are collective problems, he says, and collective action is needed to promote the common welfare. The U.S. tradition of supporting private liberty above all is wrong, as noted by that early critic of the American character, Alexis de Tocqueville, in that it “disposes not to think of their fellows and turns indifference into a sort of public virtue.”
President Barack Obama has promised to restore scientific integrity to federal policy making. His science advisor, physicist John Holdren, was one of the original signers of the UCS’s report. President Obama issued a scientific integrity directive in 2010, which was praised by the UCS, but the organization expressed caution that the directive leaves an enormous amount of discretion to agencies and departments who must work out the details.
Most state constitutions provide for the protection of public health, and the original states already had laws concerning health before the Constitution took effect. All states have laws such as mandates to collect data about the population, to immunize children before they enter school, to regulate the environment for purposes of sanitation, and to regulate safety.