The questionable Constitutionality and pseudo-science behind the no gathering, no singing, no laughing, and no dancing craze smothering this Thanksgiving
The First Amendment of the Constitution states unequivocally that the right of people to peaceably assemble shall not be infringed, but that hasn’t stopped governors around the country from unilaterally declaring their citizen’s usual Thanksgiving dinners illegal this year.
From New York to California, restrictions and regulations abound.
There are limits to the number of people you can invite, the number of different groups of people you can invite even if you’re within the limits, the location of the gathering, and even the content for your celebrations with some states declaring dancing, loud laughing, and singing in your own home off limits. Oregon even went so far as to threaten jail time for violators.
Yet the mainstream media has shown a stunning lack of curiosity concerning whether any of this is legal and, assuming it is, the science that is supposedly behind it. Instead, they’re taking the (largely) Democratic governor’s word for it and expecting the American people to meekly comply without question.
Needless to say, that’s not the way any of this works.
One would hope journalists free to operate by virtue of the First Amendment would be aware of its other provisions, but regardless the Bill of Rights cannot be waived away by a simple executive order.
This brings us to the first legal problem: Whether or not a law is Constitutional or not, governors don’t make laws on their own. Like the Federal government itself, every state has some mechanism for the separation of powers. Conceivably, state and local governments could change the zoning laws to limit the occupancy in residential buildings, but, to my knowledge, no state or locality has done so.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to ask under what authority are the governors issuing these edicts?
No answer has been provided so far. In other words, they haven’t shown us their work.
Of course, the edicts go beyond merely limits on the number of people, a position that might be legally justifiable under certain circumstances. No, they want to restrict what you can do in your own home, no dancing, singing, or laughing allowed.
Can you imagine if one year ago today someone said you wouldn’t be allowed to laugh on Thanksgiving 2020? What would you have said?
Ironically, the same Democrat Party that champions the famous Right to Privacy from Roe v. Wade is now claiming you don’t really have any such right. The privacy to sing, dance, and laugh with your loved ones can be rescinded by government fiat.
At the risk of repeating myself, that’s not how any of this works.
There are, of course, local ordinances regarding noise levels and what you can do in public, but I’m aware of no legal authority for a state or local government to ban dancing, much less laughing, in your own home. Even in Footloose, the ban didn’t apply with your significant other in your living room.
While some governors have admitted the Constitution wasn’t a chief concern when crafting these regulations, all of them have repeatedly claimed they are following the science, but, as with the legal foundation, they aren’t showing their work there either.
Yes, the virus appears to be spreading more rapidly as we head into winter, but little mention is made of the obvious: The spread is occurring while most of the country is already under significant restrictions designed to…slow the spread of the virus.
At this point, is it fair to ask how more of the same restrictions are supposed to help?
In New Jersey for example, we’re already under a mask mandate, restaurants are limited to 25% capacity, large gatherings have been banned since March, etc. If the virus has managed to accelerate its spread under these stringent conditions, how is only having 10 people over for Thanksgiving going to make a difference?
Of course, that 11th person could have the virus, but so could any of the other 10 or anyone you run into at the super market, hardware store, or limited capacity restaurant. Presumably, everyone coming to your house would be under the same mask mandate and social distancing restrictions for the past 8 months, making it a slight increase to an already low risk, the same as any other public space.
Putting it another way: There have been approximately 44,000 cases of coronavirus reported in New Jersey over the past 2 weeks. Of course, some people may have it and not know it, others may not have been tested, etc. At the same time, the great majority of people develop symptoms within 5 days and I should hope anyone hacking and coughing is likely to stay home.
Therefore, 44,000 seems a reasonable number for our purposes. There are over 9,200,000 people in New Jersey, putting the odds of anyone having it at .47% or less than 5 in every thousand. Meaning, each person that comes to your house has a (generous) 1 in 200 chance of bringing in the virus.
I agree that’s not nothing, but is it really enough to prevent us from getting together for the holidays? Is it enough to ban laughter itself?
I can’t answer that question for you. Everyone’s risk level and tolerance is different, but I can say that everyone needs to be free to make up their own minds and demand the media and the governors show us their work.