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IPFS News Link • Constitution

Rule by Decree: The Emergency State's Plot to Override the Constitution

• John & Nisha Whitehead - Rutherford Institute

"Rule by indefinite emergency edict risks leaving all of us with a shell of a democracy and civil liberties just as hollow."—Justice Neil Gorsuch

We have become a nation in a permanent state of emergency.

Power-hungry and lawless, the government has weaponized one national crisis after another in order to expand its powers and justify all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security.

COVID-19, for example, served as the driving force behind what Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch characterized as "the greatest intrusions on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country."

In a statement attached to the Supreme Court's ruling in Arizona v. Mayorkas, a case that challenged whether the government could continue to use it pandemic powers even after declaring the public health emergency over, Gorsuch provided a catalog of the many ways in which the government used COVID-19 to massively overreach its authority and suppress civil liberties:

"Executive officials across the country issued emergency decrees on a breathtaking scale. Governors and local leaders imposed lockdown orders forcing people to remain in their homes. They shuttered businesses and schools, public and private. They closed churches even as they allowed casinos and other favored businesses to carry on. They threatened violators not just with civil penalties but with criminal sanctions too. They surveilled church parking lots, recorded license plates, and issued notices warning that attendance at even outdoor services satisfying all state social-distancing and hygiene requirements could amount to criminal conduct. They divided cities and neighborhoods into color-coded zones, forced individuals to fight for their freedoms in court on emergency timetables, and then changed their color-coded schemes when defeat in court seemed imminent.

"Federal executive officials entered the act too.  Not just with emergency immigration decrees. They deployed a public-health agency to regulate landlord-tenant relations nationwide. They used a workplace-safety agency to issue a vaccination mandate for most working Americans.  They threatened to fire noncompliant employees, and warned that service members who refused to vaccinate might face dishonorable discharge and confinement.  Along the way, it seems federal officials may have pressured social-media companies to suppress information about pandemic policies with which they disagreed.

"While executive officials issued new emergency decrees at a furious pace, state legislatures and Congress—the bodies normally responsible for adopting our laws—too often fell silent.  Courts bound to protect our liberties addressed a few—but hardly all—of the intrusions upon them. In some cases, like this one, courts even allowed themselves to be used to perpetuate emergency public-health decrees for collateral purposes, itself a form of emergency-lawmaking-by-litigation."

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