Aw: New York legal system already planning for the apocalypse

But the guide also presents a sober rendition of what the realities might be in dire times. The suspension of laws, it says, is subject to constitutional rights. But then it adds, “This should not prove to be an obstacle, because federal and state constitutional restraints permit expeditious actions in emergency situations.”

When there is not enough medicine for everyone in an emergency, it notes, there is no clear legal guidepost. It suggests legal decisions would most likely involve an analysis that “balances the obligation to save the greatest number of lives against the obligation to care for each single patient,” perhaps giving preference to those with the best chance to survive. It points out, though, that elderly and disabled people might have a legal claim if they are discriminated against at such moments of crisis…

After mentioning that houses or businesses can be commandeered to shelter victims or serve as medical dispensaries, it continues that “violations of individual property rights, if actionable, would generally be sorted out after the need for such actions has ended.” The court system posted an electronic copy of the book on its Web site on Thursday, and the bar association is selling bound copies for $18 to the public. The book was edited by Michael Colodner, the former counsel to the state’s Office of Court Administration.