Brenda Hanson 0

"Liberty Once Lost is Lost Forever" (John Adams in a letter to Abigail Adams)

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In a free society, a crisis is not a legitimate reason to suspend the freedom of American citizens to assemble and the freedom of American citizens to pursue their livelihoods.

We are citizens who understand the frail and precious nature of liberty. The liberties endowed to we the people from the Creator God have been encoded in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, and we believe these rights matter even in the days of a COVID-19 crisis. We believe it is both possible and necessary for public officials to properly wrestle with the need to protect the treasured liberties of this land even as they seek to determine a course through COVID-19. Decision-making public officials with power at all levels – federal, state, and local – have pursued a reckless course of action because they have neglected to protect or even publicly discuss the liberties of American citizens.

We will briefly consider a number of the Constitutionally guaranteed liberties currently suspended.

The freedom of assembly (First Amendment). Millions of citizens have been told they are to “stay-at-home.” In many states, meetings of “more than ten” are prohibited – even on private property. Obviously, this impacts the right of American citizens to voluntarily worship in churches across the land. But, it’s much more than churches. Americans are guaranteed the right to assemble for the purpose of protest. The Women’s March, Antifa, Black-Lives Matter, Occupy Wallstreet are all recent movements in which Americans physically congregated for the purpose of protest. At these events, law enforcement even allowed violence and the destruction of personal private property at times all enshrouded within the concept of the right to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. In the current atmosphere with shut-down executive orders in place, we have all been warned that assembling – either publicly or privately – will be broken up and penalties may be levied. In some states, phone numbers and websites are being advertised so that citizen can report citizen if they see someone violating a stay-at-home order.

The protection from unreasonable search and seizure (Fourth Amendment). This right to privacy is in grave mortal danger in general due to the sophisticated and invasive nature of technology. Into this already compromised territory, add the fear (both government and media driven) of COVID-19 and suddenly the idea that the government can track our movements and associations using electronic data seems acceptable to many of Americans. But it is not acceptable. It is dangerous and deadly to freedom. It is a violation of the Constitution of the United States.

The protection of private property (Fifth Amendment). Private property is not merely the land and homes and possessions we own. It is also the jobs to which we go to so that we can purchase, maintain, improve, and replace the land and homes and possessions we own. Preventing Americans from engaging in business and from pursuing their livelihoods is theft of private property at the hands of government. Claiming that Americans can, “Work from home” is vacuous on many levels. Number one, many Americans CAN’T simply “Work from home.” Number two, even if some Americans can work from home, the idea that the government can order you to so do is antithetical to the American tradition – and Constitutionally protected right – to pursue happiness. How much happiness will be left to pursue if a government shut-down continues straight into the depths of economic disaster and a forever diminished American economy? How many lives will suffer then?

We American citizens who care deeply about our Constitutional freedoms, also care about equal treatment under the law for all people. Specifically, where are the states ever given the right to determine and define which businesses and activities are “essential” and which are not? The idea that the government – which is empowered by the people – has the right to subjectively deem some “essential” and some “non-essential” is discrimination.

Some will say that civil liberties are not being denied because the executive orders limiting these liberties are issued from the state level and not the federal. However, since the states are claiming scientific authority based on information from federal agencies such as the CDC and NIH, we believe that such an argument is hollow. States ought not be allowed to use the 10th Amendment inconsistently and to their advantage in the harvesting of power from the people to the state. Yes, the 10th Amendment reserves power to the states unless said power is enumerated to the federal government. That concept was cracked and weakened decades ago and every time a state official claims that federal law triumphs over state law, they demonstrate that the 10th Amendment is not a no-holds barred mechanism to unleash state authority at whim or even with good reason should such good reason violate the fundamental liberties of the people of that state.

The Constitution still exists. Even in the days of a pandemic. We believe the government overreach in response to COVID-19 is an overreach that is deadly to the Constitution of the United States of America and risks metastasizing into long-term corrosion of the precious frail liberties that define our Nation and belong to the Citizens of this Nation.

We ask you to consider liberty. We ask you to remember the Constitution. We ask you to stand up for our free-society and lead the way a leader in a free-society ought.

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