Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Social Distancing In Louisiana

From the Tennessean:
It’s a story Lian Cheramie has told and heard so many times in her life, it’s become folklore. Once upon a time, when her grandmother was a young girl, she would sneak under her schoolhouse to speak with her friends in her native tongue, French. It was an act of pure rebellion. It must have been about the mid to late 1930’s Cheramie estimates, at a time when Louisiana’s constitution mandated that all public schools teach in English. This was part of a government-backed effort to "Americanize" the population and students were reprimanded for speaking French in schools. “That’s where the dying of the language began. There was so much shame in speaking the language,” said Cheramie, a theater teacher who lives in Lafayette, Louisiana. (Read more.)

 Are our civil liberties being trampled? From The Stream:
Let’s look at the way government reads the first five amendments to the Constitution. There’s the first, guaranteeing freedom of religion and the right to assemble. Abortion clinics are considered essential businesses. But in some places churches aren’t (some are still meeting because there’s not yet a ban on large group gatherings in their state or because they’ve been granted an exemption to emergency rules).

For example, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested in Hernando County, Florida. He was charged with the misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order. Michael Moreland, director of the Ellen H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy at Villanova University, said, “So long as (group gathering) restrictions are neutral and applicable to everybody, religious institutions have to abide by them.” But if they’re picking and choosing what groups they apply to, then they’re not constitutional.

While it may have been inappropriate of the pastor to hold services after the order was issued preventing large gatherings, it could have been resolved without going so far as arresting him. The police could have showed up at the church and ordered everyone to leave. They could have fined the pastor. There were civil ways to address the issue, without resorting to treating him like a criminal. 
Some localities have imposed curfews. Ordering curfews for healthy people may be trampling on the First Amendment right to free assembly. There’s the Second Amendment, guaranteeing the right to bear arms. California’s Santa Clara County considers marijuana dispensaries “essential businesses.” They can stay open. But gun stores are not. They can’t stay open. What’s the difference? No one will explain. 
The Fourth Amendment bans unreasonable searches and seizures. In Rhode Island, the police and National Guard are pulling over cars with New York license plates. They will be going door to door looking for New Yorkers to force them into 14-day self-quarantine. The White House has also called for New Yorkers who live in the state to do this. 
The Fifth Amendment guarantees the right to due process. Targeting certain businesses but not others may violate it. Those businesses may be entitled to a hearing before being shut down. Shutting down businesses may constitute illegal seizure of private property. Because after being shut down for a couple of months, many businesses will not survive.(Read more.)

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