COVID: The Fight to Reopen

COVID: The Fight to Reopen

( – Governors across the country are beginning to clash with their citizens as protests erupt over business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders. For many, the objection seems to be about economic security, civil liberties, and constitutional rights that are being curtailed during the COVID-19 epidemic. The shutdowns have unsettled economic, social, cultural, and religious life of America.

This is far from an isolated movement. Last week, protests were held in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington state. On Monday, protests were planned for California, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Since the middle of March, a record 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as states forced non-essential businesses to shut down. Many of them are small businesses that are vital to the economy. Reports of civil liberty violations have also been reported as states and local governments crackdown on citizen’s constitutional rights.

All across the country, flag-waving protesters held signs that said things like “No Liberty, No Life,” “Pandemics do NOT cancel our Constitutional Rights!! Freedom over fear,” and Economic Health = National Health.”

States Facing Legal Issues

Not only are some governors facing potential civil unrest over shutdowns and overhanded tactics, but they may also be facing legal issues. In 1905, the Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson v. Massachusetts that constitutional rights can be curtailed when public health measures are put in place. However, the court did not specify the scope of these public health measures or clearly define them.

In Michigan, several lawsuits were filed last week against Gov. Sue Whitmer for going too far with her power and violating civil liberties. They’re accusing Whitmer of an overhanded stay-at-home order that will not even allow for neighbors to talk with another while practicing proper social distancing. American University Law Professor Lindsay Wiley told The Hill that state and local officials could get dragged into court if they adopt an “overly aggressive approach to enforcing mitigation measures.”

Wiley added that harsh enforcement could trigger lawsuits that are more difficult to defend than the ones recently brought by churches, gun shops, and health care providers.

Trump Supports Protesters

On several occasions, Trump has said that the cure can’t be worse than the disease and has repeatedly said the economy must be opened back up. The president has said the people are getting “cabin fever” and want their lives back. On Friday, President Trump appeared to support protesters through three separate tweets that said, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump said about protesters, “people are expressing their views” and said they had been treated “rough.” On Sunday, the president said he had “never seen so many American flags.”

These protests could become more pronounced as people begin to feel threatened that they could lose their businesses, livelihoods, and homes. If governors are not careful, their words and actions could jeopardize the public’s trust in them. This trust will be vital in the days and months ahead when implementing measures that will restore the economy.

By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor

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