No Emergency is Worth Our Liberties

“The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men.”

Samuel Adams

In Greek Mythology, the Sirens were beautiful creatures who sang strange and alluring songs to sailors passing by their islands. The sailors would become enchanted by the beautiful sounds and, seeking to get closer, would become shipwrecked on the rocky shoals of the islands. In the same way, those individuals who give in to the modern siren call, “We’ve got to do something”, make shipwreck of our society and our Constitutions.

The current Covid-19 crisis in our great Commonwealth has provided the perfect opportunity for the tyrannical tendencies of our governor to be put on display. And, how quickly those patriots who were so concerned about giving up their Second Amendment rights just weeks ago are ready to bow down to the unconstitutional demands of that same Governor. While none of us is a purist in our philosophies and each of us must weigh and balance our choices, no one who calls himself a patriot can possibly support the Constitutions of the United States and Virginia and at the same time be willing to support and/or enforce a “Stay-at-Home” order. While the Governor clearly has a role to play by strongly encouraging AND leading by example, criminalizing free movement and free association in our society clearly violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution. In addition, he has taken upon himself, or the State General Assembly has unconstitutionally granted him the authority to promulgate regulations.

First, let me dispel the notion that a “State of Emergency” or an “Executive Order” somehow trumps the Constitutions. Do not think for one moment that the Founders of this great experiment, our Representative Republic, didn’t have emergencies. They understood famine. They understood pestilence. They understood being attacked by Native Americans. And yet, they supplied no provision in their Constitutions for the chief executive of either the Commonwealth of Virginia or the United States of America to claim supreme power, either temporarily or permanently. This is a power which has been stolen from “We the People”.

A look at the current executive orders in Virginia clearly shows the dangers of giving a mortal man the opportunity to limit the God-given rights of freemen. In Executive Order #53, the fallible governor declares that “restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers markets” must close all dining and congregation areas. Notice, however, that in the same Executive Order, he is keeping state run liquor stores open. Need to keep collecting that revenue. Instead of offering suggestions on social distancing and good hygiene practices and allowing private businesses to work out their own solutions, he has inserted himself into the social and associative interactions of free individuals.

In addition to the clearly self-serving demand that breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries and tasting rooms close their dining and congregation facilities, but state-run ABC stores will continue to earn revenue, the Governor’s latest edict closes all private campgrounds until June 10th. According to the State Park website which was updated after the Governor’s current Executive Order #55, all State Park camping facilities will be closed until April 30th. Once again, different standards for private businesses.

In addition to closing certain businesses, the governor commands that “all public and private in person gatherings of 10 or more individuals are prohibited”. This means that families cannot have funerals, weddings, or birthday celebrations. Individuals who can evaluate the risks and opportunities for themselves have been robbed of the chance to participate in family functions and traditions. How is it even within the realm of Constitutionally acceptable practice to limit functions on private property? This should bother ANY Virginian.

According to the Virginia Department of Taxation, individual income tax returns are still due on May 1st. Keep in mind that Virginia State income tax returns are based upon Federal returns. It is not possible to file a State income tax return without completing your Federal return. The Federal return deadline has been extended to July 15th with no penalties or interest. How does our illustrious Governor expect citizens to comply with the May 1st deadline?

These are some examples of the lunacy and hypocrisy in the Governor’s edicts. And this is why the Founders DID NOT give this type of power to an individual.

I have gotten tired of hearing the same worn-out tripe about “irresponsible people who don’t care about others” or those “endangering everyone”. I don’t have a perfect solution to this issue, and I would submit that the Governor’s solution is not perfect either. I would suggest, however, that any individual who is concerned about contracting Covid-19 certainly has the option of isolating themselves in self-quarantine. The Constitution does not forbid that. In addition, businesses can choose to follow any strong recommendations and guidelines issued by the Governor. As a society, we have the ability to boycott, ostracize, and shame individuals and businesses who do not comply with best-practices. I am not saying these are necessarily appropriate methods in all circumstances; however, they fit within the framework of the Constitutions. This does NOT in any way endorse the principle of calling 911 to report your neighbors. (See Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Mao’s China, etc., ad infinitum) 

I have been shocked at the number of  “patriot” acquaintances of mine who brag about having “travel papers” because they are “essential” to society. The concept of having to have “papers” to travel should be unacceptable to any Virginian! As Patriots, we MUST realize that each right we willingly give up by being lured towards the rocky shoals of Tyranny is a right we will never regain. We must resist the urge to trade temporary security and comfort for permanent enslavement. Let us push back against those attempting to shipwreck our great Commonwealth.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” 

Benjamin Franklin

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