Civil Liberties Under Attack, Defenders Few and Far Between

RALEIGH – There are a lot of reasons for individuals, communities, and local governments to be concerned and prepared to take certain actions in response to a new virus spreading through out the country. With that concern should come genuine curiosity about how dangerous the virus truly is, and what individual habits and community policies are best in mitigating it’s potential to strain local healthcare systems.

Whether you are extremely worried and expecting massive death tolls and societal breakdown; if you pass it off as an exaggerated media story gone haywire; or, if you are somewhere in between the extremes, we in the United States should be in agreement that civil liberties deserve ultimate reverence when consider restrictive public health policies for the ‘collective good.’

As lockdown protocols are imposed on communities and states around the nation, and public health officials urge for more severe and extended policies, the consideration of civil liberties has seemingly been tossed aside. Even questioning the appropriateness or efficacy of such lockdown policies is enough to spark public shaming for not caring enough about this or that at-risk category of people. But under the surface, the concerns over coronavirus implications are quickly turning into resentment of overkill government actions that not only disrupt lives and artificially depress the economy, they violate core rights that are supposed to be sacrosanct in this country.

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From the Associated Press:

“[…] growing segments of the U.S. population say state and federal governments are trampling on freedoms central to American life in the name of protecting public health.

The case is already being made. A church-goer in New Hampshire says prohibitions against large gatherings violate her religious rights. A Pennsylvania golf course owner argues that gubernatorial edicts shuttering his business amount to illegal seizure of his private property. 

If civil libertarians aren’t yet sounding alarms, many have their hands hovering over the button.

“So far, we haven’t had draconian methods, like armed police blocking people’s movement in the streets, surveillance and phone tapping,” said Larry Gostin, a public health lawyer at Georgetown University. “But we are seeing lockdowns of millions of citizens like we have never seen before.”

He added: “We are on the precipice of something that could transform American values and freedoms.” […]

A few Americans are already fed up and have taken their grievances to court by suing their respective states. But a relative trickle of legal challenges will likely become a flood if lockdowns drag on for weeks and frustrations mount. […]

The Pennsylvania lawsuit filed on behalf of the Blueberry Hill Golf Club says Gov. Tom Wolf’s power to close businesses under state law is limited to man-made or natural disasters such as oil spills, tornadoes and mudslides. The coronavirus, it argues, doesn’t fall into those categories. […]”

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There is plenty more information to read about that case and others, here. Because courts have not weighed in on the constitutionality of such lockdowns of the general public, exploring how it does or does not violate individual rights, one of these cases needs to go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Imagine the general population getting used to these kinds of restrictions, and then the bar for local or state governments instituting such policies getting lower, and lower, and lower. In a state of fear, we maybe giving away all hope for an expectation of respect for individual rights, and just at a time where support for socialism and ‘free money’ from the government is en vogue.

Where is the ACLU? While some state chapters of the civil liberties defender are beginning to question new policies in response to the coronavirus, they are making more noise and taking more action on behalf of perceived infection risks to illegal immigrants and prisoners than they are about the fundamental threats to core liberties of each and every American.

That’s because the ALCU has morphed into a cudgel for the Left to beat people over the heads with in court. Their main concerns and recent actions read like the Democratic Party’s agenda on LGBT and Open Borders policies. Meanwhile, a good portion of the United States is under mandatory shelter-in-place orders from state and county executives. The mayor of Los Angeles has threatened to cut off the power to any business that defies closure mandates, and the mayor of Chicago is threatening people who dare break mandates to jog outside with arrest. For all the lives at risk from the Wuhan Virus, how many stand to be at risk because of such authoritarian measures?

How many rights must be violated and livelihoods ruined before the associated negative health effects rival or exceed that of COVID-19?

Why has the perceived collective good suddenly superseded the known, unalienable rights of the individual, and barely anyone is speaking up about it?

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