COVID-19 vs. the Constitution: Where’s the Line?

COVID-19 vs. the Constitution: Where's the Line?

( – The novel coronavirus has led to declarations of emergency and stay-at-home orders across the country, which begs the question, how far can the government go? That question’s about to take center stage after the arrest of a Tampa Bay, Florida megachurch pastor. He’s been charged for holding two services in spite of the standing order in Hillsborough county not to hold large gatherings.

The United States Constitution is silent on the question of when and the extent of any government infringement that might happen. In 1944, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) held that the internment of Japanese-Americans was a “reasonable” use of power. That was a war against people with an ocean between us and them. Now we are at war with COVID-19. It’s here, on our shores, and has infected over 160,000 people in the US as of March 30, 2020.

So what’s reasonable now?

The states of Florida and Texas have directives in place and police have been ordered to stop cars that are from Louisiana and order them to self-quarantine for 14 days or to turn around. These are extraordinary measures for extraordinary times — and they’re sure to rile up strict Constitutionalists.

Americans are, by and large, very protective of the freedoms the Founding Fathers built in. However, modern-day leaders find themselves trying to navigate uncharted waters where there’s a good chance between 100,000 and 200,000 citizens may die.

Reasonable restrictions should not be opposed by anybody, that could mean, however, the definition of “reasonable” might have to be expanded.

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