Federal judge reminds us the lockdowns are unconstitutional

A federal judge in Pennsylvania decided the state’s lockdowns violate the 1st and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. For many of us who have been concerned about the lockdowns since March, we can celebrate the decision while also being disappointed that it took so long for a judge to overturn the tyrannical actions in one state.

From the article I linked:

In the 66-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania William Stickman struck down Wolf’s limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings of up 25 and 250 people, respectively. The limitations, Stickman wrote, violate “the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment.”

Stickman ruled that the governor’s stay-home order and mandatory closure of businesses, which were deemed non-essential to curb the spread of the novel Wuhan coronavirus, infringed on citizen freedoms and discriminated based upon arbitrary “life sustaining” and “non-life sustaining” standards breaching 14th Amendment protections.

In the ruling, Stickman said he “believes that defendants undertook their actions in a well-intentioned effort to protect Pennsylvanians from the virus. However, good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge. Indeed, the greatest threats to our system of constitutional liberties may arise when the ends are laudable, and the intent is good — especially in a time of emergency.”

Stickman emphasized that once liberties erode under a public emergency, they become difficult to repossess.

“Even a vigilant public may let down its guard over its constitutional liberties only to find that liberties, once relinquished, are hard to recoup,” Stickman wrote.

It should be obvious to all people who believe in the U.S. Constitution that it is dangerous to allow governors and mayors the unfettered authority to decide which businesses may be open and which may be closed, and when people can leave their homes, and whether citizens can travel. These are the types of freedoms that the Constitution was written to protect. And it also should be obvious that the Constitution was written to protect these freedoms in difficult times, not times when it is easy to favor free speech and assembly. The correct response from the beginning was the make the lockdowns and the business closures and all other governmental actions *voluntary* and not enforceable by law.

I am happy to see a federal judge finally recognize this obvious violation of the Constitution, and I hope other federal courts follow suit.

Speaking of the lockdowns, I highly recommend that people who actually care about the data and science related to COVID-19 to please watch this video. If you favored the lockdowns — and you have an open mind — this video may change your perspective. If you opposed the lockdowns from the beginning, as I did, this video completely justifies our position.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

10 thoughts on “Federal judge reminds us the lockdowns are unconstitutional

  1. From Salvatore Joseph Cordileone is the archbishop of San Francisco.

    I never expected that the most basic religious freedom, the right to worship — protected so robustly in our Constitution’s First Amendment — would be unjustly repressed by an American government.

    But that is exactly what is happening in San Francisco. For months now, the city has limited worship services to just 12 people outdoors. Worship inside our own churches is banned. The city recently announced it will now allow 50 for outdoor worship, with a goal of permitting indoor services up to a maximum of 25 people by Oct. 1 — less than 1 percent of the capacity of San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

    This is not nearly enough to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Catholics in San Francisco. In imposing these restrictions, the city is turning a great many faithful away from their houses of prayer.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/16/archibishop-salvatore-cordileone-right-to-worship/?fbclid=IwAR2ZzlXmYh2CZbGG7ZSMVNuduBzZB37ZF3iwQ4pyVCunyuaBOpfj748H46M

  2. Our Church has been following the guidance and directions of local and national governments throughout the world during the pandemic. Our services have been curtailed and adapted accordingly, and progress has been made in reopening as circumstances permit.

    During the 1918 pandemic missionaries were called home. Temples were closed. General conference was altered. Members were asked to practice social distancing and preventive hygiene. A government edict shut down all meetings of the Church. See https://www.deseret.com/faith/2020/3/30/21186774/mormon-lds-covid-19-coronavirus-temples-church-jesus-christ-temple-joseph-smith

    The Church got through that period without either an ecclesiastical crisis or a Constitutional crisis. While limits on religious freedom always bear careful watching, I will look to the Brethren for guidance. While I respect Abp. Cordileone’s concerns, I keep my eye on President Nelson, a distinguished physician as well as our prophet. It looks to me like the Church is counseling patience as well as prudence. As the saying goes, this, too, shall pass.

  3. Leo, comparing the 1918-1920 Spanish flu, which killed about 50 million people worldwide, to the COVID-19 crisis is absolutely ridiculous. COVID-19, which the science clearly shows is nearly defeated worldwide, has killed about 920,000 people. Meanwhile, the world’s population is about four times greater now than in 1918, so for the comparison to be apt there would need a projection of 200 million COVID-19 deaths, which obviously will not happen. So, please spare me.

    I support the Brethren in all that they do. Meanwhile, I also support the Constitution, which Church leaders have clearly said is inspired. And I support the religious freedom of our church and other churches. If you had taken the time to watch the video that I linked in this post, you would have learned something about the true science and data related to the virus. But people like you love to repeat the propaganda you have heard from clearly unreliable media sources so you can maintain an atmosphere of fear and constant crisis. You should be ashamed of yourself, and I predict that several years from now people like you will look back at this period and wonder why you bought into the propaganda rather than seeing the truth that was staring you in the face. COVID-19 is a real virus, but the response to it has been way overblown and has caused the unnecessary restriction of personal liberty. It has also caused millions of unnecessary deaths worldwide from depression, suicide and lack of access to normal health facilities. All because people like you want to maintain an environment of unscientific fear and panic. My question to Leo and people like him is: do you not care about the millions of people you are killing with your panic and fear? Again, the behavior is absolutely shameful.

  4. Addressing a different point from those above, the opinion of one federal judge is not the end of the judicial process in the United States. There are appellate courts above them where decisions may be appealed. Other federal judges may issue contrary opinions that have equal standing with the first.

    The best one can conclude at this point in the process is that there is a path laid that might establish the opinion of that judge. That path is long and tenuous.

  5. An not-publicly-spoken-of reason many churches want restrictions lifted, and I’d be unsurprised to learn that this was a topic on the table in Salt Lake, is contact tracing. In many places government agencies want churches to take roll at live services so that if somebody later tests positive the contact tracers can do their “work.” What could possibly go wrong with governments compiling lists of who attends what church?

    It can seem a little tinfoil hatty at first, but again, I wouldn’t be surprised a bit if this was a real consideration for the brethren.

  6. Good article on this subject:

    https://reason.com/2020/09/18/pennsylvania-lockdown-lawsuit-victory-may-cure-a-plague-of-pandemic-restrictions/

    “Lockdowns, despite the huge costs they entailed, have not had any obvious payoff in terms of fewer COVID-19 deaths,” Reason’s Jacob Sullum noted this week after reviewing international examples and recent research. “It would not be the first time that people have exaggerated the potency of government action while ignoring everything else.”

  7. In this context, it’s worth pointing out that back in June, Elder David A. Bednar had some very pointed remarks about government overreach during the COVID crisis.

    https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/bednar-covid-19-pandemic-religious-freedom

    “The power of government must have limits,” asserted Elder Bednar.

    “This time of restriction and confinement has confirmed for me that no freedom is more important than religious freedom,” said the senior leader of the global faith. “Protecting a person’s physical health from the coronavirus is, of course, important, but so is a person’s spiritual health.”

    Elder Bednar continued, “While believers and their religious organizations must be good citizens in a time of crisis, never again can we allow government officials to treat the exercise of religion as simply nonessential. Never again must the fundamental right to worship God be trivialized below the ability to buy gasoline.

    “In our understandable desire to combat COVID-19, we, too, as a society may have forgotten something about who we are and what is most precious,” he concluded. “Now is the time for us to heed the wake-up call, to remember and to act.”

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