It was mostly an internet meme, circulating through the evil reich-wing communities, but, eventually, the credentialed media had to take notice; the election being over, it wasn’t as harmful to their causes anyway.
by Juliet Williams, Associated Press | December 3, 2020 | 7:00 AM EST
SAN FRANCISCO — Their messaging has been clear: wear a mask; stay 6 feet apart; and, most importantly, stay home!
But their actions aren’t living up to the rhetoric, creating a real political problem for some of the most vocal leaders in California’s fight to contain the coronavirus.
First came Gov. Gavin Newsom, who won plaudits for issuing the first statewide stay-at-home order in the U.S. back in March. He broke the state rules when he and his wife were caught dining with 10 others at the posh French Laundry restaurant in Napa in early November with lobbyists and others from numerous different households, sitting close together, mask-less.
San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, was at the same $350-a-plate restaurant a day later, dining with a San Francisco socialite and six others. Breed has also won accolades for imposing some of the strictest rules in California, keeping coronavirus rates relatively low. Her spokespeople haven’t responded to queries about how many households were there — state rules cap those at three. Her spokesman rubbed salt in the wound by saying she has been trying to support local restaurants. The French Laundry is 60 miles out of town.
The Associated Press article makes it sound like Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) was the first, but he wasn’t. Newsweek posted an article listing some of the others:
- Mayor Steve Adler (D-Austin)
- Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK)
- Mayor Michael Hancock (D-Denver)
- Mayor Muriel Bowser (D-Washington DC)
- Mayor Sam Liccardo (D-San José)
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D-Chicago)
The article also noted that Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) was preparing to break his own rules, but when it became public in advance, he cancelled his plans due to the political backlash.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was caught on tape going to a private hair salon, for which the lovely Mrs Pelosi did not apologize, but simply claimed that she’d been set up by an evil reich-wing activist.
Of course, the people on the list are all over very large areas. I’m guessing that a lot of smaller city mayors and city councilmen, etc, have also violated the rules, but they aren’t important enough to have made the national news.
There is one Republican on the list, but Newsweek also stated that:
Republican governors have faced fewer accusations, largely because they have not implemented as many of the restrictions that public health experts have called for.
Translation: they have had more respect for our constitutional rights.
In his concurring opinion in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v Cuomo, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote:
Government is not free to disregard the First Amendment in times of crisis. At a minimum, that Amendment prohibits government officials from treating religious exercises worse than comparable secular activities, unless they are pursuing a compelling interest and using the least restrictive means available. Yet recently, during the COVID pandemic, certain States seem to have ignored these long-settled principles. . . . .
What could justify so radical a departure from the First Amendment’s terms and long-settled rules about its application? Our colleagues offer two possible answers. Initially, some point to a solo concurrence in South Bay Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, in which the Chief Justice expressed willingness to defer to executive orders in the pandemic’s early stages based on the newness of the emergency and how little was then known about the disease. At that time, COVID had been with us, in earnest, for just three months. Now, as we round out 2020 and face the prospect of entering a second calendar year living in the pandemic’s shadow, that rationale has expired according to its own terms. Even if the Constitution has taken a holiday during this pandemic, it cannot become a sabbatical. Rather than apply a nonbinding and expired concurrence from South Bay, courts must resume applying the Free Exercise Clause. . . . .
In the end, I can only surmise that much of the answer lies in a particular judicial impulse to stay out of the way in times of crisis. But if that impulse may be understandable or even admirable in other circumstances, we may not shelter in place when the Constitution is under attack. Things never go well when we do.
COVID-19 is serious, a highly contagious disease that can be, and is, fatal, though in only about 1% of the cases. Hospitalization rates are much higher than that.
But the damage being done to our constitutional rights is far, far greater. The precedent being set, that government can set down rules which would otherwise be unconstitutional because of some ’emergency’ simply leaves it to elected officials to decide just what emergencies outweigh our constitutional rights. Many are already wanting to abridge our constitutional rights under the Second Amendment because some bad people are wrongly using firearms. The New York Times published an OpEd by Parker Malloy, himself a male who thinks he is female, claiming that “Twitter’s Ban on ‘Deadnaming’ Promotes Free Speech.” There will always be such very good reasons to suspend or restrict our constitutional rights, when those rights are left for other people to decide. If the left can somehow ban ‘hate speech,’ what other speech can they ban? The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act actually sought to ban political speech in favor of one candidate or another prior to an election, because, well just because.
Brave men fought, and died, for our rights. At least six of my known ancestors fought in our Revolution, for the rights they were denied by King George and his Parliament. At least twenty-one of my known ancestors came to these shores, risking their lives on the open ocean in small wooden ships, for the right to worship God as they chose, and not be oppressed by King James and King Charles for not being Anglicans. Can I really support governors restricting our freedom of religion over a disease far less deadly than an ocean voyage to an untamed continent in the 1620s and 1630s?¹
Our great country was founded in danger, by people fleeing tyranny in England, and by brave men and women who risked their lives on the frontier, and in war, yet our political leaders today, primarily but not exclusively Democrats, would have us quaking in fear and trashing the freedoms and liberties for which our ancestors fought and died. We dishonor our ancestors when we allow their sacrifices to be wasted.
¹ – Fifty-one of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower either died at sea or in that first New England winter and spring.
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