I was grateful to receive an email from a friend – Ian Lind – promoting his latest piece, on his blog, this Saturday evening.
It talked about Covid-19 and the “right to travel”, delving into the constitutional and legal arguments that are possible counters to the ongoing call to ban visitors from coming to Hawaii from another state.
While the piece is a bit heavy laden in the legal issues, citing readings of Supreme Court rulings, one thing that he mentioned was a court case – Jew Ho v. Williamson (1900), in which it was determined that the quarantine order placed on a area in San Francisco was, among other things “ill-suited to stop the outbreak” – had piqued my interest in this subject of Constitutional rights.
As mentioned in a citing from the New England Journal of Medicine, which Ian uses in his piece, “Despite their breadth, the federal and state quarantine powers are subject to important constitutional limitations.”
And that is a point to expound on – constitutional limitations.
With Hawaii and American society seemingly in lock step with the idea of shutting down the state, or doing a shelter in place type order, it is more important than ever for every American to become familiar with their Constitutional rights.
Because, despite the fact that there is a virus out there that is causing all kinds of disruptions in the lives of Americans, the American Constitution is still alive, active and enforceable, for the American people.
What does that mean? Well, in short order, it means that the rights and privileges that you enjoy as an American – including freedom to petition, speak and seek redress of wrongs, continues to be intact and enforceable through this crisis. Provided some of the less-important issues might be dealt with after the crisis is done, the fact of the matter remains that Americans still have rights under the law, and they should know they are intact.
If you are interested in hearing more about this point of view, I invite you to go to the ACLU COVID-19 web page and check it out.
On a last item of this thought, just like with the aftermath of 9/11, there are whole groups of people who are demanding “safety at all costs” without even considering the rights of others at this time. It is hoped that the one freedom we have – the freedom of speech and expression – is combined with a bit of “critical thinking” as we enter the rabbit hole of sheltering-in-place.
Because we are already on the path to pay an enormous price over this virus. And that should be enough without Americans giving up their rights in the process.