Constitutional Rights

Just a short “thought of the day”.

We’re seeing an interesting dichotomy form in the citizenry, between people who wish to resist government dictates to social distance and close businesses (usually on the political right, but not limited to) and those who are all OK with obeying political orders to stay home and shut down all activities under penalty of law. (usually on the political left, but not limited to.)

Constitutionally, shutdown orders don’t have much legal substance. A governor or mayor can issue all the shutdown orders they want, and they can also order the police to arrest anyone who is violating such orders. But if arrests actually take place, it is almost without doubt that the courts will find that the politician has exceeded their authority.

“Authoritarianism” has an interesting context these days. It’s liberally (pun intended) applied to anything the President says or does that can even remotely be interpreted as coercive or supporting a coercive policy, but it’s almost totally absent from commentators regarding shutdowns due to COVID19, which is REAL authoritarianism in action.

Odd, that.

At the end of the day, any politician, local or national, who orders a shutdown or lockdown has exceeded their authority and made themselves a likely target for a lawsuit. The US, in general, does not have “martial law” provisions to the extent that other nations do, in particular some of the Asian nations, who have constitutions built on different interpretations of civil and human rights than those with their roots in European liberal democracy.

That said, we depend on the wisdom of the citizen to do what their political leaders advise them to do to avert further crisis. (Yes, the cynic in me chuckled when I wrote “wisdom of the citizen”.)

At the end of the day, however, we must do what is wise. Our political leaders, for all the rancor that’s been extant for the last three years, are all in agreement on this (although suggesting that they are all in agreement will cause wails of objection to echo across the internet), that we should maintain social distance for some time yet, quarantined within our own household units, until the wave of danger passes, which will probably take another two to four weeks, looking at the data trends over time.

Stay home not because the law tells you to, but because it’s wise.


Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.