by WorldTribune Staff, April 16, 2020
Amid the coronavirus crisis, elected officials are assuming “dictatorial powers” to “interfere with our personal choices,” former judge Andrew Napolitano noted.
“Let’s say you are at a big-box store looking for groceries and other items. The government cannot constitutionally limit your choices to food and paper towels if you prefer to buy grass seed and a garden hose. These are intimate personal decisions. You need not explain or justify them to the government and you don’t need a government permission slip to exercise your free will and make those choices,” Napolitano wrote in an April 15 analysis for The Washington Times.
“Until now. Now, we have become a nation of sheep. We have elected officials with constitutionally assigned duties — and constitutionally imposed limitations — who have assumed to themselves dictatorial powers and have falsely claimed that they can interfere with our personal choices. Who are the governors to decide which human activities are essential? Abortion is essential but Mass is not? No constitution gave them that power,” Napolitano wrote.
Attorney General William Barr is one who is standing up for the Constitution amid the madness, Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley noted on April 16.
Barr has been “issuing warnings to local government about unconstitutional church worship crackdowns, sounding the alarm on federal and state overreach during times of national crises — even outright intervening in a bit of Mississippi madness that saw a mayor allowing police to set their cruisers perimeter-like around a church parking lot and fine car passengers $500 each for the crime of listening to their pastor as he preached,” Chumley noted.
In Mississippi, where 20 to 30 people were fined for attending an Easter drive-in church service, Barr wrote: “The city of Greenville fined congregants $500 per person for attending these parking lot services while permitting citizens to attend nearby drive-in restaurants, even with their windows open. The city appears to have thereby singled churches out as the only essential service (as designated by the state of Mississippi) that may not operate despite following all CDC and state recommendations regarding social distancing.”
In response to the Department of Justice’s intervention, the city dropped its fines, reports say.
Barr told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on a recent televised segment: “Religious liberty is the first liberty, the foundation. I would hate to see restrictions on religion continued longer than they’re necessary.”
“In these chilling, anti-First Amendment times, where free assembly is stifled, free expression of religion is clamped, even free speech is widely attacked,” Attorney General William Barr is “not just talking the Constitution talk, but also walking the Constitution walk. And forcing others to walk the Constitution walk, as well,” a columnist noted.
Barr “has been a steady supporter of individual rights among of sea of political and bureaucratic coronavirus-inspired crackdowns on individual, God-given, American rights,” Chumley wrote. “He’s been just what the U.S. Constitution ordered — at a time when the doctors of the world have been egregiously ordering what the un-American globalists would prefer.”
Meanwhile, in Michigan, citizens fed up with “their tyrannical governor,” took to the streets to fight for their freedoms, Chumley noted.
Thousands of people drove into Lansing and surrounded the Michigan Capitol Building in protest of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home directive,” Fox 2 Detroit reported.
Meshawn Maddock, an organizer for the protest, said the demonstrators included Republicans, Democrats and independents.
“Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people,” Maddock told Fox News. “Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing. We don’t need a nanny state to tell people how to be careful.”
Echoing President Donald Trump that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the disease,” Maddock said the governor’s restrictions are wrecking people’s lives.
“The health care system is basically shut down,” Maddock said. “People with issues are having trouble seeing a doctor because everyone is focused on the virus. My husband and I are checking in on my in-laws, but even doing that is now breaking the law.”
Chumley wrote for The Washington Times: “It’s not just a right to Americans to strive for freedom. It’s not just a right enshrined in the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, in the First and Second amendments in particular. It’s a duty. An actual duty. It’s a duty and responsibility for Americans to demand government obey. And how do Americans typically go about exercising that duty? With civil disobedience. Peaceful — but purposeful, persistent and powerful civil disobedience.”
Former judge Andrew Napolitano wrote for The Washington Times on April 15: “During the past month, as Americans have been terrified of the coronavirus, another demon has been lurking ready to pounce. It is a demon of our own creation. It is the now amply manifested inability of elected officials to resist the temptation of totalitarianism. And it is slowly bringing about the death of personal liberty in our once free society.
“It is one thing for public officials to use a bully pulpit to educate and even intimidate the populace into a prudent awareness of basic sanitary behaviors — even those which go against our nature — to impede the spread of COVID-19. It is quite another to contend that their suggestions and intimidations and guidelines somehow have the force of the law behind them.
Napolitano, the author of nine books on the U.S. Constitution, noted: “These ‘orders’ — stay at home, close your business, don’t run in the park, don’t go to Mass, practice social distancing — are not laws that can carry a criminal penalty for violation. They are guidelines, without the force of law. A governor or mayor can no more craft a law and assign a punishment for its noncompliance than the courts could command the military or police.
“Even if legislative bodies did order churches and businesses closed, and governors and mayors were just enforcing those laws, the laws would be profoundly unconstitutional. The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment firmly establishes freedom of religion as a fundamental liberty, and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment firmly establishes your right to purchase a lawful product in interstate commerce from a willing seller as fundamental.
“Fundamental liberties are in the highest category of liberty, akin to freedom of conscience and speech and press and privacy and travel.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio “violated his oath to uphold the Constitution when he threatened to use force to close permanently all houses of worship that defied his guidelines,” Napolitano wrote. “And a small-town police department in northern New Jersey exquisitely violated the constitutional rights of Catholics — while enforcing the ever-changing whims of Gov. Phil Murphy. The police claimed they were following the governor’s orders when they barred a priest on Palm Sunday from distributing palms in sealed plastic bags while he and each parishioner wore masks and gloves and were six feet apart in the fresh outdoors.”
“Enough is enough,” Napolitano stressed. “The employment of government power to assault personal liberty and cut constitutional corners is never justified in a free society, no matter the exigency. The Constitution protects our rights in good times and in bad. Those in power who steal freedom are unworthy of office. But don’t expect them to give us our freedoms back. We will need to pry it away from their cold and covetous hands.”