Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Conservative group sues Gov. Bill Lee over 'unconstitutional' efforts to stop coronavirus spread

by Rod Williams, 8/25/2020 - Ever since the advent of the Coronavirus and the use of government authority to combat it, questions have been raised about the limits and source of the authority for a governor or mayor to impose restrictions such as stay-at-home orders and mask mandates.  It is pretty clear that a mayor or local Directors of Health get their authority from the State.  However, that does not determine if the State authority is legitimate. 

The state legislature has explored this topic.  They asked for a legal opinion from the State AG who said the State authority being exercised by the governor  was legal. Not satisfied with this answer, the State legislature held public hearings and called in other impressive legal minds to answer the question. 

Former US Attorney General  and Dean of Belmont law school Alberto Gonzales told the State Legislature what the State was doing  was legal. William Koch, a former Tennessee Supreme Court justice and current dean of the Nashville School of Law also said it was legal. 

Today a conservative groups has filed a law suit to determine if the Governor is exceeding his authority by his Executive Orders to combat the pandemic.  My limited research has caused me to think he has the authority to do what he is doing, but clarity would not hurt.  I am not a lawyer but it looks like some the authority to order a quarantine may apply to quarantining sick people, not healthy people.  I hope that is addressed. 

Equally of concern to me as the question of the legitimacy of government power to combat the virus, is the question of the selective application of that power. Why are churches closed and strip clubs open?  Why can 10,000 people sit down in the street on lower Broadway in a protest and the police not issue citations because the group is larger than 25 people and because many are not wearing mask, yet a tourist walking down lower Broadway gets a ticket? Selective enforcement is an opportunity to allow speech by those with whom you agree and silence those with whom you do not. 

For more on this latest development, see the below links: 

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