(TargetLiberty.org) – For law enforcement and government officials, keeping people safe without violating their personal freedoms can be a thin line to walk sometimes. The coronavirus pandemic is a reminder of that. On one hand, it’s important the public understand how serious the situation is and abide by the guidelines put in place. On the other hand, there’s a measure of how strict is too strict before people start to feel as though their Constitutional rights are being violated.
Should the government force people to stay in their homes or wear protective gear? Are no-visitation policies in hospitals a bridge too far? Who should be making these decisions?
Stay Home or Pay The Price
President Donald Trump has asked the American people to practice social distancing. However, he stopped short of issuing a stay-at-home order for the entire country. Governors in states like California, Florida and Ohio among others are doing it instead. Michigan is one of those states and now people who violate Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order might have to pay a fine or even go to jail.
On April 2, the Detroit Free Press reported Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon issued an emergency order setting a $1,000 civil fine for violating the order. A person who refuses to stay home could receive 90 days in jail and a $500 criminal fine.
The question is: Is a stay-at-home order even Constitutional?
This is new territory. The government must follow the Constitution and yet people have a right to assemble. However, there are laws in states that allow governors and local officials to have wide-ranging authority. A Supreme Court ruling is the best way to find out, but that takes a lawsuit.
Put That Mask On!
In Loredo, Texas, residents in the city have to wear a mask or face covering over their mouth and nose when pumping gas, in public buildings or while using public transportation. If people are caught without them they can be fined up to $1,000.
Like the stay-at-home order, the forced face masks smell like a violation of rights. Should the government, local or federal, fine people who refuse orders?
No Visitors Allowed
City and state officials aren’t the only people trying to keep Americans safe. Hospitals all across the country are grappling with it too. Many hospitals have completely banned visitors from their buildings.
Nicole Buchanan, a Florida woman, dropped her husband off at the hospital on March 22. Hospital staff refused to let her in the building after she parked the car, saying no visitors were allowed because they were trying to contain the virus.
Mrs. Buchanan never saw her 39-year-old husband again. He died in the hospital from COVID-19.
Some hospitals are even banning parents from visiting their babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The parents can visit with their babies by video chat only.
Technically, hospitals are well-within their rights to stop visitors. It’s very sad in cases like Buchanan’s but the rules are not just about one husband or one baby. It’s a healthcare facility’s job to think about all the patients within and make the hard choices needed to keep everyone safe. Officials in local and state governments are doing the same thing, but they need to make sure they leave Americans’ rights intact.
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