People take part in a protest for "Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine" at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan
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istory may not be kind to government leaders when the story of the “Pandemic of 2020” is written.

Driven by fear, panic, and irrational reliance on deeply flawed statistical “models,” state governors and local leaders have dangerously jeopardized more than 200 years of constitutional rights and civil liberties with their imposition of mandatory mass quarantine orders.  No exigent circumstances, however well-intentioned, can justify many of these authoritarian tactics employed to fight the COVID-19 contagion.

While it is true that the law authorizes states to respond aggressively during health emergencies, such actions have limits.  Restrictions must be rational, consistent, and justified.  Power is abused when the government orders quarantines that are arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable because they arguably violate the 5th and 14th Amendments’ rights of Due Process and Equal Protection. Some actions have violated the Bill of Rights.

Restrictions must be rational, consistent, and justified.

Depriving people of their liberties (the right of association, assembly, religion, and travel) is constitutional only when it is judicious and circumscribed.  For example, confining people who show no symptoms of the Coronavirus is constitutionally suspect.  Voluntary, not mandatory measures would have been a better course and less intrusive.  Recommended social-distancing guidelines are one thing; sweeping orders of confinement under threat of criminal or civil penalties is another.  They are not narrowly tailored, as they should be, to infected persons who pose a risk to others.

Are the wholesale lockdowns, then, rational and justified?  To answer that question, consider this: governors and city leaders completely closed down businesses across America and confined people to their homes by relying almost entirely on two statistical models that were grossly inaccurate.  Economic activity was brought to a grinding halt because of data that was supposed to be well-sourced, credible and trustworthy.  Except that it wasn’t.

Many government leaders relied on an online mapping tool by the name of “COVID Act Now” that was so alarming in its catastrophic death projections that city and state leaders immediately instituted shutdowns in many regions of the nation. The forecasts were wildly wrong, as Madeline Osburn wrote in the Federalist:

“Perhaps the goal of Covid Act Now was never to provide accurate information, but to scare citizens and government officials into implementing rash and draconian measures.  The creators even admit as much with the caveat that ‘this model is designed to drive fast action, not predict the future.’”

The other model (if you can call it that) was produced by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.  Not long ago, it predicted as many as 240,000 U.S. deaths, only to amend within days that figure to 60,000. The media happily attributed the downward revision to the celebrated success of social-distancing, never realizing that the model had already factored full social-distancing into its calculations:

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A woman wearing a mask walks past closed store fronts in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, on April 15, 2020 in New York City.

Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review, who has kept careful track of this particular model’s revisions, correctly concluded that it was utterly discredited:

“The model on which the government is relying is simply unreliable.  It is not that social distancing has changed the equation, it is that the equation’s fundamental assumptions are so dead wrong they cannot remain reasonably stable for 72 hours.”

Bear in mind that the now revised figure of 60,000 deaths is slightly lower than the CDC’s estimate (high end) for common flu deaths this season, as I noted in my last column.  But, of course, we are scolded by the mainstream media for having the temerity to draw such a common-sense comparison.  The Washington Post has labeled that a “zombie claim.”

The only “zombie claim” of which I am aware was the reckless and ludicrous assertion by Governor Gavin Newsom that he was shutting down California because 25 million people in his state would contract the virus.  No credible statistical formula supported that claim.

So, to answer my own question: No, not all of the extreme and self-destructive actions of government officials have been rational or justified.  They were, in many instances, overwrought.  This calls into question their constitutional validity.

In a column by David Harsanyi entitled “Coronavirus Authoritarianism Is Getting Out of Hand,” he wages a compelling argument that America should be preserving our rights and freedoms in a time of crisis.  Yet, the opposite is happening:

“Politicians act as if a health crisis gives them license to lord over the most private activities of the American people in ways that are wholly inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Constitution.  It is an astonishing abuse of power to issue stay-at-home orders, enforced by criminal law, empowering police to harass and fine individuals for nothing more than taking a walk.”

Harsanyi offers numerous examples of heavy-handed enforcement.  They include dragging a passenger off a bus for not wearing a face mask, handcuffing a father in front of his family for playing T-ball with his daughter in an empty park, and three Massachusetts men being arrested for crossing state lines to play golf in Rhode Island.

At times, hysteria has crossed the threshold of insanity.  Several jurisdictions banned drive-in church services on Easter in an audacious affront to the First Amendment. Congregants were fined for sitting in their cars (windows up) and listening to the sermon via their radios. This is beyond irrational; it’s punitive toward religion.

Arbitrary and capricious orders have come to define the fatuousness of pandemic decrees.  In Florida, where most businesses have been forced to close, professional wrestling (World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE) is inexplicably deemed “an essential service.”  I guess you could say, the fix was in.  Wrestling is “critical to the economy,” the governor explained.  But thousands of other shuttered businesses are not?

The mass shutdowns have left the economy paralyzed and more than $1 trillion in economic activity destroyed. 22 million people are unemployed, penniless, hungry and desperate.  You can feel the despair.  As I’ve argued before, many Americans are far more fearful of the economic catastrophe than the virus itself.

Half of U.S. households have no emergency savings.  They live pay-check-to-paycheck.  Now, the paychecks are gone.  Unemployment benefits and a stimulus check from the government are not enough to survive.  They are out of money and living on the brink.  More than anything, they want to go back to work.

But will they even have jobs to return to when the lockdowns are lifted?  Have governors and local officials extinguished their livelihoods, inflicting even more pain and suffering?

The banner headline on the front page of Thursday’s New York Times offered a chilling prognosis: “Sales At U.S. Stores Hit ‘Catastrophic’ Depths.”  And it’s not just retail, but industrial production and manufacturing are on the precipice. Businesses everywhere are cratering, which means temporary joblessness could become permanent for millions of people.

Historians will analyze the steps taken by government officials.  They may well conclude that leaders were too reliant on health experts and erroneous “models.” Not enough consideration was given to the advice of economists and how excessive action might strangle the nation’s financial health.

A month ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that “we’ll be thankful that we’re overreacting.” Tell that now to the millions of Americans who may never recover from the destructive wounds inflicted by their own government.

Our most precious freedoms were established by the Framers in the Bill of Rights.  Those rights and civil liberties are being nullified and crushed by the arrogance of some governors who have blatantly overstepped their executive authority under the guise of public safety. On Fox News, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey quipped that the Bill of Rights are “above my pay grade.”  He must have forgotten the oath of office in which he swore to uphold the Constitution. Murphy’s inane, cavalier comment disqualifies him from serving in any capacity as a public official.

Fortunately, Americans are smarter than Murphy and other governors like him. Citizens are mobilizing to fight back against the intrusive edicts of their authoritarian leaders.  Large protests have taken place in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia.

My Fox colleague Judge Andrew Napolitano warned, “If we don’t take our freedoms back, they might not come back.”  Let’s hope it’s not too late.

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21 Comments

  1. If these ham handed governors are still in office after their next elections, that will tell the country how the people of those states value their civil rights.

  2. “History won’t be kind”? Well, that depends on who gets to write the history, and we’ve seen that history already written has been changed in order to indoctrinate our young.
    The scariest part of what’s been going on for the last couple of decades, becoming more obvious every year as the water starts bubbling around us, is not that some are trying to change our country, but that so many people are completely aware of it and think it’s just dandy. This is what our schools have done. While we worry about the indoctrination of college kids, it’s being spread down to earlier and earlier grades.

  3. Or, it could tell us that the number of people willing to commit voter fraud and election tampering is much greater than we supposed.
    We all know this is coming, but the people responsible for our elections do nothing, and the GOP isn’t fighting it either.

  4. Obama was better.
    Better at lying. Saying he would do something and doing another.
    Better at kowtowing to China and Iran and sacrificing American economy.
    Better at ignoring the values of the conservative majority.
    Better a being a smooth talking oritor con man.
    Better at believing his party would get away with illegal spying on American citizens.
    Better at greed and graft. Lining his and the Biden families pockets.
    Giving priority to the ruling elite over the American people.
    Better at letting the black community down and sowing a victim mentality.
    Ya. He was way better than Trump at all those things.

  5. My fear is now that we have set a precedent, everytime there is a flu season, the government will use the guise of health safety to take our freedoms over and over. Eventually they will say that can’t give them back in the name of safety. And sooner or later it will be applied to everything.

  6. While it may not have been intentional (?) in the beginning, this IS a testbed for the future.
    Once exceptions for constitutionally protected rights are accepted, then MORE exceptions WILL be sought for any future “national emergency”.
    We are on VERY dangerous ground.

  7. Michigan has had it with our Govenor capriciously taking away our rights. She should be prosecuted by our AG for misconduct in office but the AG is too political and posts on Twitter and FB, etc encouraging people to turn each other in. We are standing up for ourselves, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  8. I know this is a little off topic. Question: Could China purposely let this coronavirus out on the world? Maybe they think by doing this, they can punish America for the trade tariffs we have imposed on China. Could it be a cover-up for the real target of punishment to America. Collapse our economy on purpose. The CCP is the real enemy of the world!!!

  9. THE TRUTH

  10. She is part of the left…..how did she really get elected??
    SCARY!!! SHE MUST BE GONE A FRIEND OF THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.
    PRESIDENT TRUMP MUST BE ELECTED IN MICHIGAN!!!!!

  11. The people have the power. Better people should run for office–people with common sense and courage, people who love our country and appreciate the freedoms for which so many brave men and women fought and died. Let us vote these cowardly, scoffers at liberty out and vote in bold sons and daughters of Lady Liberty.

  12. It is also ironic that some of these same oppressively ridiculous governors will sanction illegal immigrants running across the border with tuberculosis and varied other things in many cases, but not allow people to gather in a parking lot at a distance with their windows closed to hear a sermon by their own pastor. In fact, it is beyond absurdly ridiculous. Our forefathers came here to found a country based on freedom of religious worship, not freedom from religious worship. It is also absurd that the same politicians who want socialized medicine that has caused the taxes of the middle class and poor in Sweden to be 55% of their income, with some of them moving from their homes into little cubicle Apartments to pay the taxes for medical insurance that they don’t even have much say in and can’t even get what they need half the time. It is also ironic that the same politicians who want socialized medicine are the very politicians who brought so many millions of illegal immigrants here that now there are far too many people for the government to even begin paying medical bills of all of those masses of people. What we need are strong leaders like George Washington, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln. President Trump is doing a great job, in spite of the lies printed in Daily newspapers. It is time to stop relying totally on flawed, human scientific projections that have recently failed us, in many ways. It is time to return as William Faulkner said to the old verities and truths of the heart. It is time to return to our faith and Common Sense, using extra Health measures of course but returning to the business of our country and our lives and re securing the blessings of liberty for our posterity and ourselves.

  13. As a former high school English teacher, I agree with you completely. However, do remember that these teachers who are teaching our younger children, with the exception of some like my daughter, who simply did not buy the Marxist/Leninist propaganda at college, are being trained by the masses of colleges across our country, colleges that are promoting this dangerous philosophy under the guise of social justice. Not one of these professors, from what students are telling me, has read aloud even one memoir from the citizens who were trapped in the USSR before the Wall fell. I have read many of them with one in particular that comes to mind in which the victim behind the Berlin Wall stated that the government convinced them that socialism would fulfill all their hopes. He further stated that when socialism was instituted it was all lies and they lost all hope.

  14. You almost got a mouth full from me with that first sentence. I totally agree. God bless America. Trump 2020.

  15. I agree but we must remember God is still in control. The One World order receives a deadly wound.

  16. gregg jarrett is a jerk. he spreads conspiracies and out right lies. he is a actor in support of trump.

  17. But until God decides to eliminate evil politicians from the scene, we need to use imprecatory prayers as did David in Psalm 109 because here David calls upon God to destroy his enemies in the most horrible of ways.

    In this God ordained Psalm there are 30 anathemas pronounced upon David’s enemies who are also God’s enemies. David not only seeks their punishment but also painful consequences to be brought on their famalies.

    If the Christians who know Jesus Christ as their Savior would start using imprecatory praying aganist all of the evil in the District of Criminals God will answer our prayers with a vengeance.

  18. George Soros (taken from Political Vel Craft) Read the article it will blow your mind.
    Revealing the evil deceptive ploys and tactics of George Soros, progressive liberals, Marxists, Communists, Socialists, et. al. all to create a One World Government of unrepresentative control, in the same manner Radical Islam wants to create a caliphate.

  19. Bill is an ass.

  20. The coronavirus was overstated from day one. Panic was driven by the media in an attempt to make them seem relevant. The pandemic numbers never rose to pandemic level. The media portrayed with assumed dialogue, “should,could,might.presumed” all words that as soon as they are said, makes the media fake. However most people don’t hear the inuendos , just everything said after and that what fuels panic.
    I worked for a newspaper for 30 plus years.
    The news was always slanted, but now it’s just outright lies. It’s all used to drive ratings which in terms drives revenue. I can’t with good conscience watch or read anything that portends to be news. Where has truth in reporting gone? A shame.

  21. More get their incentive checks in yuan these days than you might think.

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