Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the audience gathered to celebrate his inauguration at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
I often wonder: among those who support the various state governors’ and city mayors’ actions curtailing our constitutional rights to fight the spread of COVID-19, is there any step they could take that they would consider a step too far?
- A Louisville judge has ordered a man who has been exposed to — the article did not specify ‘tested positive for — COVID-19 be fitted with ankle monitors, the type used to track some criminals and sex offenders on parole, but who has refused to self-quarantine. Two other Louisville residents who live in homes with someone who has tested positive are under similar ankle monitoring, including one who tested negative.
- Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY) has had a hotline set up for informants neighbors to snitch on people non-compliant with his orders. Mr Beshear has also ordered that anyone entering the Commonwealth from neighboring states to self-quarantine for fourteen days, placed an armed deputy to enforce house arrest outside the home of a Nelson County man who tested positive but refused to self-quarantine, and ordered the state police to photograph license plates in church parking lots to see which parishioners are violating his orders suspending church services.
- The state police in Pennsylvania are enforcing Governor Tom Wolf’s (D-PA) stay-at-home orders by citing a woman for ‘taking a drive’ for no ‘approved’ purpose.
- The Philadelphia Police, whom the appropriately-named Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has ordered not to pursue petty crimes during the coronavirus emergency, pulled a man not wearing a mask off a SEPTA bus after he refused to debark.
- Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) has stated that “the city could shut down certain places of worship if people continued to violate the state’s stay-at-home mandates and continue congregating for religious services there,” and that if religious leaders to not obey his orders, city officials “will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.”
- Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) stated that the police will break up any big parties and that the party-givers will be heavily fined.
- Governor Gina Raimondo (D-RI) ordered the police to stop anyone with New York plates for questioning, and sent police and the National Guard “going door-to-door” in coastal communities, asking people if they’ve been to New York and requesting their contact information.
- The sheriff of Wake County, North Carolina, ordered his department to stop processing background checks for new applications to purchase firearms.
- Tarrant County, Texas, Commissioners, the majority of whom are Republicans, set fines and a jail term for up to 180 days for anyone who violates their emergency orders.
- Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) issued ‘stay-at-home’ orders and banned “outdoor gatherings of any kind will be allowed unless they are related to essential businesses like food or medicine.”
These things are all violations of our First Amendment-guaranteed right of peaceable assembly and free exercise of religion, our Fourth Amendment-guaranteed right to be secure in body and property from government intrusion absent due process and a warrant, and our Fifth- and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees against deprivation of liberty and property absent due process of law.
Given that the majority seem to be cheering these authoritarian actions, these suspensions of our constitutional rights, because they are supposedly necessary, by elected state and municipal officials, I have to ask: just what would be a step too far even for the supporters of such actions?
- An example: If someone said on social media, in response to Governor Beshear’s order that those entering the state must self-quarantine, “This is why we have the Second Amendment,” — note that I expressed that in terms which do not constitute a direct threat against anybody — would the left believe Mr Beshear went too far if he sent the state police to search the man’s house for weapons?
- A nurse posted on Twitter that she quit her job because the hospital didn’t have enough Personal protective Equipment (PPE) and she was being exposed to COVID-19 patients, would the supporters say the governor of her state went too far if he said she could not resign and ordered her back to work?
- If a state had too many people under self-quarantine orders to be able to enforce such against them, could the state then round up those people and place them in ‘camps’ where they could be monitored by guards?
- If someone who had been exposed to the virus refused to be tested and refused to self-quarantine, could the state force him to be tested, and incarcerated until the test results came back, and keep him incarcerated or under house arrest for two weeks if the results came back positive?
Other scenarios could be constructed.
If we assume that those who support the actions of the various officials are intelligent people, concerned about our constitutional rights but believing that the protection of society somehow outweighs them, they must have some idea of what would be a step too far. I, for one, am interested in how such people think.
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