Article from For Liberty by For Liberty Staff.

**This is an opinion piece and does not reflect the opinion of For Liberty.**

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, states and localities are taking unprecedented steps in order to try and keep their most vulnerable constituents safe, and slow the rate of infection. 

Many of these steps are important and needed, however as panic has begun to take hold some of these measures have begun to go, we think, too far. Draconian and unconstitutional measures currently being taken by certain government officials are putting many Americans at the risk of losing, not only their health but also their constitutional liberties. 

For instance, many states and localities, including major cities such as New York And Washington D.C., have issued directives ordering local businesses to shut down immediately, in effect likely destroying the livelihoods of many small and local business owners. These orders will have extremely dire economic consequences, and many of them likely will not pass constitutional muster.

Of course, the state and local governments can – and should – issue advisories and warnings regarding the spread of the virus. Including requesting that individuals and businesses voluntarily stay home or close down. However, once they cross the line and begin ordering businesses to shut down arbitrarily, especially without any preponderance of evidence that shows that lesser measures couldn’t be equally effective in stopping the virus’s spread, they have taken a dangerous step toward full-on tyranny. 

The constitutional situation becomes even clearer when government officials go even further and attempt to impose a ‘lockdown’ on their residents, essentially imposing an order that prevents them from leaving their house under threat of arrest. A move that is not only unconstitutional but also puts many lives at risk in the process. 

As Tom Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins SPH Center for Health Security has pointed out:

A further problem with such draconian measures is that, in all likelihood, what began as temporary emergency measures will not only become permanent but also begin a descent down a slippery slope and begin to apply to issues not directly associated with the Coronavirus outbreak itself. For example: recently the mayor of Champaign, Illinois unilaterally granted herself the power to ban the sales of guns and alcohol as part of her emergency response to the Coronavirus. This in spite of the fact that, at the time of the declaration, no Coronavirus cases had been reported in Champaign. As The Washington Examiner reported at the time:

 “Among the powers Feinen gained after signing the executive order was the power to ban the sale of guns, ammunition, alcohol, and gasoline. Feinen could also cut off access to individuals’ gas, water, or electricity. The city also has the ability to “take possession of private property” or order the temporary closing of all bars or liquor stores.”

Of course, the mayor was later forced to declare that the city did not, in fact, plan on banning the sale of alcohol or firearms. But the fact that the declaration in question still technically gives her the “right” to do so is extremely troubling. As it, no doubt reflects the desire of many of the radical members of the Democratic party too, in the words of former Obama administration advisor Rahm Emmanuel “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

These radical elements will undoubtedly attempt to use the crisis to try and undemocratically impose elements of their far-left agenda on average Americans.

It, therefore, is imperative that citizens know their own rights, and responsible local and municipal governments make no attempt to try and unconstitutionally infringe upon them. 

State and local governments should, of course, take all appropriate measures to safeguard the health and well being of their constituents in this time of crisis, but this must be done while adhering to the constitutional rights and protections which so many American throughout history have gladly laid down their lives to protect.

We owe it to them, and to generations of Americans still unborn, to make sure that their sacrifices weren’t in vain. Even in the midst of a global pandemic.