03 Nov James Bovard on the Battering of the U.S. Constitution
The Constitution was intended to place politicians under “house arrest” – to strictly limit their power over private citizens in perpetuity. But in 2020, “house arrest” has been the default decree of many governors, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he may impose a national lockdown if more people test positive for Covid. Biden says he changed his mind and won’t shut down the economy. But his rhetorical reversal could be as nonbinding as were campaign promises to keep the nation out of war by Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Franklin Roosevelt in 1940, and Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Biden has run one of the most brazen fear-based presidential campaigns in modern memory. He routinely exaggerates Covid death tolls by a hundred- or a thousand-fold and talks as if every American family has lost a member or two from this plague. The more fears that politicians fan, the easier it becomes to seize boundless power.
Covid shutdown advocates flaunt claims of “science and data” like righteous priests invoking God and the Bible to sanctify scourging enemies. In the same way that local health czars felt entitled to shut down all private and public schools if the Covid positivity rate exceeded 0.000008% of the population, so the next president may feel entitled to nullify the Constitution if more than a statistically insignificant number of people nationwide test positive. And it won’t matter that the tests are wildly inaccurate or that WHO overestimated the Covid fatality rate by 50-fold. Bogus Covid test results will be sufficient to euthanize bonafide constitutional rights.
Attorney General William Barr said that imposing a “national lockdown” would be “the greatest intrusion on civil libertiesthe Amarillo Sod Poodles minor league baseball team.
This year’s political developments have illustrated how easily politicians can nullify Americans’ rights merely by promising to play King Canute and magically sweep away a virus. Federal judge William Stickman IV ruled in September, “Broad population-wide lockdowns are such a dramatic inversion ofthe concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional.” But the response to the dictatorial governors such as Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and New York’s Andrew Cuomo reveals that tens of millions of Americans will happily sacrifice anything and everything for promises of a risk-free life.
Can Americans read their future in the fetters proliferating in other English-speaking nations? Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another national lockdown – 30 days of unmitigated misery, shutting down all “nonessential businesses” and confining people to their homes unless they have a few specific reasons to step out into the cold, cruel world. A senior cabinet member said yesterday that Britain’s shutdown may be extended beyond one month because “we will always be driven by what the data shows.” In New Zealand, the government last week announced it was creating “quarantine centers” for anyone who tests positive and refuses to obey government orders. One Twitter wag scoffed, “New Zealand went from gun bans to concentration camps in less than a year.”
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