Darlene Huang Briggs, J.D., M.P.H., is the Network’s Deputy Director for the national project, Act for Public Health — a  partnership of public health law organizations that supports health departments and advocates navigating changes to governmental authority to advance healthier communities for all. She provides collaborative leadership to both manage the Network’s contributions to Act for Public Health, including legislative analysis, legal technical assistance, and resource development, and encourage maximum impact of the partnership.

Darlene began her career at a local county health department and has held law and policy positions at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Public Health Law Center, Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Her work over the years with interdisciplinary teams, including consulting on regulatory science issues, has been centered around designing, enacting, and implementing equitable public health laws and policies. Darlene earned her B.S. from Colorado State University, M.P.H. from the University of Minnesota, and J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law.

Articles & Resources

Why Proposed Legislation to End Judicial Deference to Executive Agencies Matters for Public Health

Law & Policy InsightsPublic Health AuthorityEmergency Legal Preparedness and Response

February 21, 2024
by Darlene Huang Briggs

When a judge hears a case involving an agency’s interpretation of a statute, they defer to a qualified party—typically a state or federal agency—for their technical subject matter expertise in interpreting that statute. However, there has been a movement to pass legislation disallowing this practice. While these efforts do not target public health by name, they do make it harder for all agencies to implement needed rules and policies in the future–including state and local health agencies.

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­What Does Judicial Deference Have to Do with Public Health Authority?

Fact SheetPublic Health AuthorityEmergency Legal Preparedness and Response

February 21, 2024
by Darlene Huang Briggs

Judicial deference is a legal principle that has historically respected the knowledge and experience of governmental public health actors, including public health agencies. However, recent attempts to dismantle judicial deference could have a negative impact on health departments without explicitly targeting public health. This fact sheet introduces the concept of judicial deference and its role in health agency administrative decision-making.

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Trends in Vaccination Law and Judicial Challenges

WebinarsEmergency Legal Preparedness and ResponseCOVID-19Health in SchoolPublic Health AuthorityMaternal and Child Health

June 30, 2023
by Darlene Huang Briggs

The federal and state vaccination requirements that prevented infection and death for millions of people in the U.S during the pandemic have also led to legislation and litigation limiting governmental authority to impose these life-saving public health measures. This webinar will explore recent legislative and judicial trends related to vaccine law and policy, including the expansion of non-medical exemptions and shifts in the authority to impose vaccination requirements, especially for school attendance. Speakers will also discuss vaccination measures that have been enacted to slow the transmission of COVID-19, such as more equitable vaccine access through expanded scope of practice laws for qualified providers to administer vaccinations. The webinar will also provide a glimpse inside the legislative experience of public health advocates in one state given the changed vaccination policy landscape.

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Innovative Laws and Policies for a Post-Pandemic Public Health System

ReportPublic Health AuthorityCOVID-19Mechanisms for Advancing Public Health

June 20, 2023
by Darlene Huang Briggs, Donna Levin and Jill Krueger

The backlash in response to public health measures taken during the pandemic has resulted in many states passing laws restricting the ability of public health to take action to protect the health of their communities. However, there are many states that have taken innovative actions that strengthen public health authority and provide mechanisms that support a strong public health infrastructure.

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