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Are Lockdowns Constitutional?

The country has been in lock down since February, 2020. In fact, the entire world has been in lockdown. Do these lock downs actually stop the spread of Covid-19? That will be the topic of another article. This article focuses on the effects of these lockdowns and addresses the legality thereof.

A California restaurateur snaps at health officials in viral video: "Are you going to pay my rent?" This is only one of the many questions the restaurant owner should have asked. A business owner has many obligations to satisfy, most controlled by contracts and other obligations. Some of those include:

  • Employee Salaries
  • Employee Benefits
  • Employee Taxes
  • Business License and Taxes
  • Business Building Rent
  • Utility Costs
  • Business Goods Contracts
  • ..... and the list goes on

The question is: Who is responsible for fulfilling these contractual obligations? The obvious answer is the Business Person. But how can this be accomplished if the government shuts his business and has no way to make a living so he can pay his employees and satisfy his commitments?

Executive orders, much like the ones used to shut down thriving businesses, do not have the power of law. Executives (mayors, governors, etc.) are elected to administer the law, not create it. There are provisions for executives to exercise emergency orders. Again, these are not laws and they typically can be placed in effect for a very limited length of time. A two-week maximum comes to mind. If a law is required, the appropriate legislature (the people we voted for to represent us) must pass a law to support the executive's mandate. Valid executive orders may only be "Proclamations" or "Orders to the Executive Staff", not to citizens.

But there are limitations to what executive orders and laws can do. First of all, they must all be supported by the Constitution. We all have Constitutional rights. Those rights cannot be abridged, even in the time of an emergency. “Our federal Constitutional rights don't go away in an emergency.”  Bill Barr April 21, 2020

So, do lockdowns violate our Constitutional rights? I think so. Article I, Section 10 states: "No State shall ... pass any ... Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts..." Business owners and citizens contracts have both been obstructed. Covid-19 is not a valid excuse.

White Pine County in Nevada has taken a step toward correcting these unconstitutional actions. In a December 9, 2020 Resolution, the county dec laired a "state of economic emergency due to Covid-19 state-mandated regulations". This resolution gives some relief to businesses, but doesn't go far enough. Another article on the resolution can be found here: "Nevada County Nullifies Governor's Covid Restrictions Declaring Their own 'Economic Emergency'.

Conclusion: It seems clear that State and Local governments are violating our Constitutional rights. Why aren't these government officials, operating under the color of law, in jail?.

 

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