The Tenth Amendment has been ignored for well over a century, and the rebellion against this limitation on federal power has been especially bad over the last fifty years. But the rebellion has reached a new level lately with people like Andrew Cuomo calling on President Trump to implement a national mandate by executive order. This terrible idea ignores the rule of law and again drastically expands executive power.
As I have said in the past, I will submit to state or local civil authorities if they require me to wear a mask in public. I believe that state and local government have the authority to mandate certain actions to protect public health, and there has been case law backing up this authority.
However, I will not submit to a national mask mandate signed by President Trump or passed by Congress. The federal government has no constitutional authority to do this and I would be in rebellion against the rule of law if I obeyed an illegal order. This is not an act of civil disobedience. This is an act of respect for state sovereignty and the limits on our federal government in the U.S. Constitution. The powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states.
A national mask mandate passed by Congress would be bad enough, but a national mask mandate signed into law by the President would be much worse. The President does not make law under our system of government. The executive branch enforces the law. It is the legislative branch that makes the law.
One thing I find amusing is that some of the same people decrying Donald Trump as a “tyrant” are also calling on him to expand his power in an unprecedented way. With no input from the legislative branch, they want one man to mandate the facial coverings of every private citizen in a nation that is 2800 miles wide and has 328 million people. This is an astonishing expanse of government power, which is not granted to the federal government anywhere in the Constitution. Who are the real tyrants here?
I am not opposed to a local or even statewide mask mandate, but a national mandate is bad public policy. We are an enormous nation and decisions on what to require should be made at the most local level possible. Local leaders guided by medical experts are in a better position to know what is best for their communities. No matter who sits in the White House, no human being has the capacity to know what is best for all fifty states on mask policy, much less every local community.