COVID-19: The Erosion of Our Constitutional Rights
I believe we are currently witnessing the single most significant attack on our rights as Americans in this lifetime, as the government scrambles to understand and extinguish the Coronavirus.
Let me explain. Currently, the government is prohibiting our first amendment right to peaceably assemble and freely exercise our religion (1st Amendment Violation), the government is working with Apple and Google now to develop tracking and surveillance software within their mobile operating systems to track our every move under the guise of "controlling spread," (4th Amendment Violation), the government is deploying drones in Hawaii as surveillance and enforcement to keep people in their homes (4th Amendment Violation), the government is restricting owners from accessing their property via police checkpoints in Dare County, North Carolina without due process of law (5th Amendment Violation). For many employees across the country, the government has restricted their right to work, since virtual work is not an option for many (Violation of Constitution Article 23.1 Right to Work). My brother-in-law just last week was pulled over by police here in Virginia, and they interrogated him on his whereabouts and destination. After he explained to them that he is an essential worker, they forced him to call his employer and then spoke with the executives at his company to verify his answers. The aggressive removal of constitutional rights over the last 30 days is unimaginable and downright illegal and should be viewed as an attack on every American.
If anyone disagrees that we are losing rights during this pandemic, they are naive. Most reasonable people you speak with will admit we are losing critical constitutional rights, but they will suggest this is only temporary. Others will say that there is no legal right worth keeping if it means others will die. I want to address both of these thoughts:
1. Loss of constitutional rights always starts with an event that seems "temporary," and is often justified with noble reasons. For instance, the tragedy of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 led to the mass surveillance and violation of privacy on every American, which was ultimately exposed by Edward Snowden. Whether you agree with what Snowden did or not, it is factual that he exposed Government overreach and privacy violations on all Americans. Unfortunately, this was not just a temporary loss of privacy rights; we will never get those privacy rights back. The NSA still has access to everything we do and say, including all of our phone calls, which is a clear violation of the third and fourth amendment in the Constitution. You will notice a recurring tactic to justify government control and abuse for something noble, which in this instance was national security to save lives, a premise similar to COVID-19 safety.
2. The Constitution does not have a COVID-19 caveat, and while human life is important, it is not more important than human rights. We must remember that our founding fathers risked and lost their lives so that we might have these constitutional rights. In giving up their lives for our freedoms, they set the ultimate example that rights should never be bartered, not even for life itself. We remember the famous words of Patrick Henry just before the Revolutionary War when he said, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death." Unfortunately, in the 21st century, we now happily give up our rights to the government for the myopic hope of temporary health, as if the government can deliver this. Early American patriots fought for our God-given rights in the face of likely death, and now we willingly give up these cherished rights in the face of unlikely death. What is wrong with us? Our freedoms and rights have never come free; there has always been a cost to maintaining our rights as Americans. I am realizing through the CV19 crisis that our society has become so afraid of death, and so intent on extending their human life here on earth at all costs, that we are now willing to forfeit all of the constitutional freedoms our fathers fought and died for on American soil.
The Constitution Protects Us from Government
As citizens, we should question all orders and mandates that infringe on our rights as Americans. History has proven that our country prospers when people are encouraged to freely and openly consider, debate, and vote on the best course of action for our country. Why does the government think they can order us around, without an actual democratic process? Remember, this is the same government that was unprepared and unable to supply us with basic protective gear (masks, gloves, sanitizer, etc.) and gave us no real opportunity to purchase this type of PPE, which seems like a basic unenumerated right (covered under the 9th amendment) akin to the ability to buy clean water, food, or shelter.
The Government Is Not Trustworthy
Let's consider the misguidance by the government's primary medical expert to date, Dr. Fauci. All of the models and death estimates by Fauci are wrong; we're not talking about a 5-10% deviation, we are talking about 100-200% forecasting errors. Fauci, the "expert," was also initially against ending travel from China, but thankfully Trump made the right decision to close down travel from China. Fauci initially told us masks didn't matter, and then just recently told us we should be wearing masks. Dr. Fauci still refuses to acknowledge the efficacy of the hydroxychloroquine drug, even though over 6,000 doctors from more than 30 countries all say it is highly effective in saving lives from those inflicted with COVID-19. As if all of that was not bad enough, this past week, Fauci publicly said he does not think Americans should ever shake hands again. What!? He clearly lacks judgment, and this is the medical expert leading our country through this pandemic! I honestly don't care to attack Fauci, even though I think he is certainly deserving of any criticism he receives. My point is, our country's virus "experts" have proven they do not know what they are talking about, as the models and guidance are changing almost weekly. So why should we trust them? Why would we allow our constitutional rights to be stripped based on faulty CV19 projections?
The truth is, we do not have any real evidence that opening America back up would result in more deaths. If people keep their distance, wear masks, and avoid touching their face, nobody can prove that more fatalities would still occur. In fact, countries like Sweden are living out their democracy more boldly than the United States. Sweden has encouraged its older population to quarantine while allowing those who are middle-aged and younger to make their own decisions, which includes continuing to work and live their lives as they choose. Of course, they are using common sense by wearing masks and keeping their distance, but they are not allowing medical "experts" to dictate sweeping stay-at-home orders across the entire country. Their individual citizens are personally deciding what level of risk they are willing to take while the health professionals simply advise, which is exactly how it should be. The irony in the US is that our grocery stores are packed with people, and many of the shoppers are in similar proximity as people would be at work or church. I understand the argument that food is essential to life, but so is work as you need money to buy food. My point is, we have given up fundamental constitutional freedoms based on guestimations from the "experts."
To be clear, this is not a blog post advocating an immediate return to normal life. I run a business, and while I am continuing to go to our physical office, the rest of our company is working remotely. We all know it is wise to be cautious right now, but who should be making the decisions? My concern is with government orders that are in direct conflict with the Bill of Rights and take away our right to choose for ourselves. The recent government orders are unconstitutional and put the sustainability of our freedoms at risk in the long-term. I am disheartened by so many Americans who prioritize short-term safety above all else in life, cheapening the work of our founding fathers.
Lastly, if you agree with the sentiment of this post, you should be free to speak out about the infringement of our freedoms during this time, without fear of being labeled as selfish or unconcerned about the well-being of others. You can care about the health and safety of those in your communities during this time, and also be equally disgusted by the government's trampling over our constitutional freedoms. The right to work and assemble at church should always be available to every American, and we should be able to choose, at our discretion, what level of risk we are willing to entertain. We also know through history that major economic depressions and job loss leads to death as well, through increased suicides, crime, and more. We should not allow people to control this narrative as a binary decision between the economy or saving lives; this situation is much more complicated than that. To be more realistic, this could very well be a situation that involves deaths now versus deaths later, and we also know that loss of rights almost always leads to loss of life. History has already proven this point true through major events in history, like the holocaust, as a prime example.
Ultimately, I believe crisis reveals character, and the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to decide who we really want to be as a country. Epidemics, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and countless other catastrophes are dynamic and will continue to come and go, but our constitutional rights as Americans should remain static and unchanged, regardless of the loss of human life.
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin