A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.
— Gerald R. Ford
If the current destruction of our civil liberties and the rule of law isn’t a perfect example of the evils of big government, I can’t think of a better one. Even the internment of the Japanese during WWII had some logical basis, but the evisceration of our vibrant economy on the altar of “If It Saves One Life” is simply unjustifiable on its face. Perhaps if we renamed it, “If It Prevents One Trump Vote” we would arrive a t a more honest moniker.
The United States Constitution is clear in its intent, and that is to prevent the encroachment of government power on our lives. It limits government power and action, and guarantees our ability to redress our grievances against government.
Too bad so many of our elected officials consider those guarantees to be advisory at best, and simply ignore them at worst.
That’s why President Trump’s reworking of the deep-state judiciary is vital, and why the District Court suit against Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania (and the Michigan Supreme Court holding against Governor Whitmer) is so important.
The decision in Butler properly reorients the court’s deference away from the state’s emergency prerogatives and toward individual liberties. It is an important decision, not only because of what the judge decided, but because of how he decided it: Judge Stickman refused to simply rubber stamp the Governor’s pandemic orders decreed in the name of a public health emergency.
COVID-19 public health orders present a unique challenge to those whose lives they suspend and disrupt. Under state public health emergency laws, once a governor declares a state of emergency, it is practically impossible for the state legislature to undo it. That leaves aggrieved parties with no recourse but the courts, further burdening them with the expense and frustration of litigation.
The default to freedom and liberty from government action has morphed into the awful axiomatic assumption that government in all its forms is superior to the individual. When that change occurred is open to debate, but its existence is not.
My first experience with government power was the seat belt law passed in the early 1980s in NY. I remember my father installing three-point belts in our cars in the 1960s. And, seeing first-hand the horrible consequences of not wearing seat belts…when I was a teenager we saw a car leave the interstate at high speed, and all three occupants were ejected, with predictable results.
So I am a big fan of seat belts, and have never driven without wearing one. But that is my choice, and I bristle when told to do it on pain of a fine or, ultimately, imprisonment.
Yet that is a mild an unobtrusive example of government overreach. We can all think of dozens of examples, but none on the scale of the current crisis.
UPDATE: On October 1st, 2020, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a temporary stay of Judge Stickman’s ruling as to congregate limits. Pending the parties’ appeal, then, the restrictions on gatherings will remain in place.
And that’s not surprising…government will defend itself to the last. After all, there is nothing so intoxicating as the exercise of power!