What I mean by my title question is when a crisis, any crisis strikes the nation, is there a potentially greater danger lurking in the shadows that we frequently fail to note? I saw an article recently by Judge Andrew Napolitano that I agreed with. In the course of studying what is happening politically, socially, morally, and financially in today’s world I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with people from all spectrums of the political arena. I suppose my view on this could be described as Libertarian Leaning but I believe it is squarely Constitutionalist. You decide what you think as I offer my two-cent thoughts for consideration.
Any time people face a crisis, the looming monster of FEAR rises and can become the dominant force. Is that where we have been and are in this time of the crisis imposed by the COVID-19 or coronavirus? Have we stepped over the line of surrendering our Freedom for the government’s offer to provide safety? Can the government keep us safe from a virus or a disease? Are the actions of the federal government, the proposed actions of Congress, and those of individual state governors constitutional? Are we in danger of surrendering our Liberty for the hope of Safety and not truly enjoying either? The jury is still out on that and it may be sequestered for some time.
“The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances.” – Ex parte Milligan, U.S. Supreme Court (1866). This brings to mind several examples of the government’s overreach regarding our Freedom and Constitutional Liberties. Although presidents and legislators have overstepped their constitutional authority from time to time, the massive tryannical overreaches have been few.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln incarcerated some from the North who challenged his wartime decisions, in the name of public safety. The Supreme Court unanimously rebuked him, as they should. This current crisis is ravaging parts of the world and disrupted life for most humans on the planet. It is serious but is there a greater danger regarding our Inalienable Rights, Liberties, and Freedoms? Again, I want us to be safe and do what is needed but can the government truly keep us safe?
We are supposed to have a free-market, but when it comes to healthcare, I would argue that we have only a limited free-market. Let me explain what I mean. There are so many regulations, restrictions, and governmental mandates imposed on doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc. that, in a very real sense, we have government-run healthcare in America. No, we do not have single-payer or boards of bureaucrats making decisions, but the regulations are sometimes detrimental, and the wheels of progress are slowed to a crawl.
We possibly could have and should have responded quicker to this virus, but the federal controls made that a virtual impossibility. The efforts to blame Trump are ridiculous because this condition has existed for a very long time. The various states could have, should have, and wanted to do their own testing, but the CDC (the Feds) would not relent.
It took weeks to change that stance, largely thanks to the President’s leadership it changed, and we are moving forward with much greater efficiency and speed. If you want to see what micromanaged healthcare looks like on steroids vote for Universal Healthcare. What we have seen in this should be a clarion call to reject it and return the power to the States that the Constitution affords them. That would put us more in control of our own healthcare than we are now.
I understand the paranoia and fear because nobody wants to contract a disease that could or might kill them. We want to be safe and our willingness to allow the government to impose on us conditions they declare will keep us safe, opens the door for a danger that will not quickly pass with the ending of the threat of the virus.
Various governors, mayors, and country officials are mandating closures of businesses, restricting travel, and imposing a brand of ‘martial law lite’ on their citizens. Is that constitutional? Is destroying the economy and plunging a million or more citizens into unemployment, the best approach? I find myself conflicted on this issue. It is a complex issue.
The Judge and others have reminded us of several Constitutional provisions that cannot be ignored. The ‘Contracts Clause’ of the Constitution prohibits the states from interfering with lawful contracts, such as leases and employment agreements.
The ‘Due Process Clause’ of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from interfering with life, liberty, or property without a trial at which the state must prove fault.
The ‘Taskings Clause’ of the Fifth Amendment requires just compensation when the state meaningfully interferes with an owner’s chosen lawful use of his property.
Therein, the hidden danger is embodied. On the one hand, we want to be safe and keep everyone safe and on the other, we must balance that with Freedom and Liberty. It is a problem!
Let me insert a provision of the First Amendment that we may not be considering, and you decide what you think. I am sorting through these thoughts carefully and will continue to do so. I want our people to be safe and at the same time, I want us to remain Free. Someone said to me, “Well, Roy if you are dead your inalienable rights don’t mean much do, they?” They were challenging my concerns and telling me that I should just submit willingly to the government’s edicts without question. I have difficulty with that because I believe in Inalienable Rights and the Constitution.
The First Amendment includes the right to associate and provides the judicially guaranteed right to travel. I would contend that both are natural rights. I can see a caveat where restriction of association and travel might be justified, but are we at that juncture in this situation? Historically, we have been willing to comply with the edicts of the government and trade liberty for safety in times of great fear. But, can the government truly keep us safe and is that supposed safety worth the relinquishing of our liberties? You are required to answer that for yourself.
In the 1790’s we adopted the ‘Alien and Sedition Acts’ due to the fear of a second revolution. During the Civil War, we had Lincoln’s fear of Congressional dissent, in World War I, President Wilson suppressed speech, and in the Great Depression, President Roosevelt seized property without compensation due to a Fear of economic calamity. After 9/11 we opened the door for governmental overreach in the Patriot’s Act. I list those to ask, “Is there a greater danger behind the danger we face in a time of Fear?”
The Judge asked a question that each of us needs to ask our elected representatives, “If liberty can be taken away in a time of crisis, this is it really liberty; or is it just a license, via a temporary government permission slip, subject to the whims of the politicians in power?”
I have offered no real answers, only raised questions. But I believe they are questions that should weigh heavily on our minds and we must never lose sight of the reality that inalienable rights must be protected. My liberty and yours are personal. You may surrender yours, but do you have a right to force me to surrender mine? I stand firmly for Faith, Family, Freedom, and the Constitution. We all want safety and want no one to be infected with this or any other deadly disease, but dare we not consider the entire picture?
God bless you and God bless America!