I have said multiple times that I believe government has the authority under the Constitution to issue stay-at home orders. I have said several times that we should obey lawful orders. But elected leaders need to be reasonable in their guidelines, and going too far will undermine the public’s trust in them and the public’s willingness to obey the orders – which is critical if we want to “flatten the curve.”
Here are a few examples of government going too far and acting in a stupid manner.
Banning big box stores from selling gardening supplies and seeds to plant gardens as part of the COVID-19 stay at home order is totally absurd. We want people to socially distance, and if people are growing their own food they will have less reason to go to the supermarket. Telling people to not have large gatherings is reasonable. Telling people they cannot buy the necessary supplies to grow their own food and avoid the virus is not at all reasonable – especially when marijuana dispensaries are open.
As to the governor of New Jersey, it is one thing to argue that “stay at home” orders do not violate the Constitution. That is a reasonable position and something that I can respect. It is not reasonable to openly state that you do not care about the Constitution at all and you are only relying on “science.” Our system of government is not an oligarchy of scientists. We have a constitutional republic built on protecting rights. Phil Murphy should be impeached.
Finally, we have the shocking case of a high school girl who was threatened with arrest for posting on social media about having a severe respiratory infection. She believes that she had the Communist Virus. Whether she is right or wrong is not something law enforcement has the authority to decide. There needs to be criminal penalties for flagrant abuses of power like this, with long prison terms.
We need to be able to trust our government officials generally. At a time like this, trust is more essential than it has ever been. When government officials act like tyrants, that trust is eroded if not destroyed. People will start openly defying “stay at home” orders, because they will see the orders not as legitimate efforts to slow the spread of a virus and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, but as an excuse for government to put their boots on our throat. This behavior severely undermines the fight against COVID-19.