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Freedom in a time of madness

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano on

"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances." -- Ex parte Milligan, U.S. Supreme Court (1866)

During the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln thought it expedient to silence those in the northern states who challenged his wartime decisions by incarcerating them in military prisons in the name of public safety, he was rebuked by a unanimous Supreme Court. The essence of the rebuke is that no matter the state of difficulties -- whether war or pestilence -- the Constitution protects our natural rights, and its provisions are to be upheld when they pinch as well as when they comfort.

This basic principle of American law -- our rights can only be interfered with by means of due process -- is being put to a severe test today in most American states.

Here is the backstory.

The coronavirus pandemic, which ravaged portions of China and Italy, has arrived in the United States and our central planners have panicked. We do not have a free market here in the health care delivery system; rather, we have thousands of pages of regulations and control at the federal, state and local levels.

That control was revealed as manifestly deficient and ignorant when the virus struck. The feds have been so protective of their control of health care -- an area of governance that the Supreme Court has ruled is nowhere delegated to them in the Constitution, and but for their power to tax those who defy them, would be nonexistent -- that they insisted that only the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta can be trusted to test for the virus.

 

It took weeks of begging by governors and mayors for the feds to relent. Of course, once they acknowledged that labs throughout the country are as competent as theirs to conduct the tests, they realized that their incompetence had deprived all physicians as well as most private sector and state government-owned labs of the test kits themselves.

We all know how central economic planning diminishes freedom and adds to the cost of products. Now we know that central micromanagement of health care can kill people.

But these mayors and governors were not to be outdone by the feds in their totalitarian impulses. Many of them, particularly in the northeast and the west coast, have issued decrees that are as profoundly unconstitutional as Lincoln's efforts to silence dissent.

The governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut have all issued decrees closing most retail establishments, particularly all restaurants, bars and theaters. The governor of New Jersey is threatening to ban all travel after dark. And, the mayor of New York City is threatening to ban all travel all the time.

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Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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