Update on the Federal Covid Tyranny Challenge: The Governor filed a motion to dismiss our lawsuit, and we responded yesterday. I think Samuel Adams said it best on October 14, 1771:
“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and 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, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of 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 be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.”
Here’s the Governor’s motion to dismiss our federal lawsuit on behalf of the Bridge Cafe & Bistro Restaurant, challenging the Stay at Home Order and the Mask Mandate:
This is extremely interesting – not because of the election fraud aspect of it, but because the basis of the entire petition to the Supreme Court is the principle of separation of powers with respect to the powers of state legislatures. This has been the same basis upon which we challenged the West Virginia Governor’s executive orders pursuant to his declaration of a state of emergency. The exact same issue. Additionally, West Virginia also changed election laws without going through the legislature, in which case there could be issues of validity pertaining to the West Virginia election in 2020. In other words, if the popular votes in PA, MI, GA and WI should be invalidated based upon changes in state election laws by their executive branches, instead of their legislative branches, then so should the COVID mandates in those states – as well as in West Virginia – also be unconstitutional for the same reasons.
Here are some excerpts from the arguments in this amicus brief, supporting the Texas lawsuit:
Encroachments on the authority of state Legislatures by other state actors violate the separation of powers and threaten individual liberty. The unconstitutional encroachments on the authority of state Legislatures in this case raise particularly grave concerns…..
In every other context, this Court recognizes that the Constitution’s separation-of-powers provisions are designed to preserve liberty. “It is the proud boast of our democracy that we have ‘a government of laws, and not of men.’” Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654, 697 (1988) (Scalia, J., dissenting). “The Framers of the Federal Constitution . . . viewed the principle of separation of powers as the absolutely central guarantee of a just Government.” Id. “Without a secure structure of separated powers, our Bill of Rights would be worthless, as are the bills of rights of many nations of the world that have adopted, or even improved upon, the mere words of ours.” Id. “The purpose of the separation and equilibration of powers in general . . . was not merely to assure effective government but to preserve individual freedom.” Id. at 727….
It is no accident that the Constitution allocates such authority to state Legislatures, rather than executive officers such as Secretaries of State, or judicial officers such as state Supreme Courts. The Constitutional Convention’s delegates frequently recognized that the Legislature is the branch most responsive to the People and most democratically accountable. See, e.g., Robert G. Natelson, The Original Scope of the Congressional Power to Regulate Elections, 13 U. PA. J. CONST. L. 1, 31 (2010) (collecting ratification documents expressing that state legislatures were most likely to be in sympathy with the interests of the people); Federal Farmer, No. 12 (1788), reprinted in 2 THE FOUNDERS’ CONSTITUTION (Philip B. Kurland & Ralph Lerner eds., 1987) (arguing that electoral regulations “ought to be left to the state legislatures, they coming far nearest to the people themselves”); THE FEDERALIST NO. 57, at 350 (C. Rossiter, ed. 2003) (Madison, J.) (stating that the “House of Representatives is so constituted as to support in its members an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people”); id. (stating that the “vigilant and manly spirit that actuates the people of America” is greatest restraint on the House of Representatives).
Democratic accountability in the method of selecting the President of the United States is a powerful bulwark safeguarding individual liberty. By identifying the “Legislature thereof” in each State as the regulator of elections for federal officers, the Electors Clause of Article II, § 1 prohibits the very arrogation of power over Presidential elections by non-legislative officials that the Defendant States perpetrated in this case. By violating the Constitution’s separation of powers, these non- legislative actors undermined the liberty of all Americans, including the voters in amici States.
BRIEF OF STATE OF MISSOURI AND 16 OTHER STATES AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE BILL OF COMPLAINT
One could apply these same arguments to point out that West Virginia has been living under a state of government by executive orders, issued by the governor pursuant to his indefinite declaration of a State of Emergency, including orders altering state election law. If PA, GA, WI and MI violated state separation of powers doctrines in changing their state election laws, they – and we – have also done so by changing other state laws through executive COVID mandates. You can’t pick and choose which causes are important enough to violate the separations of powers. If the 2020 election changes required the legislatures approval, then so did the 9 months worth of mask mandates and lockdown orders.
“Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah have formally joined Texas in its Supreme Court suit against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—four battleground states who ran illegal and unconstitutional elections,” the state of Texas said in a statement. “The joining states agree with Texas: the defendant states exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to justify unlawfully enacting last-minute changes and ignoring both federal and state election laws, thus skewing the results of the 2020 General Election. ”
As promised, tonight – Monday evening – at 6:30pm eastern, don’t miss my live cast video, an episode of Freedom is Scary. Available at this link, on Youtube, and on our Facebook page as well. Join the live chat and bring your comments/questions.
Yesterday, we took the West Virginia Governor to federal court on a challenge against the “Mask Mandate” and “Stay at Home” executive orders following the Governor’s threats on Friday the 13th to start having people arrested and charged with “obstruction of justice.” Fortunately, the Governor backed down from his threats, and the West Virginia Attorney General has joined us in our condemnation of those threats, even before we were able to get to court. I’ll unpack what was said, what the Court ruled, and where we’re going from here.
When law enforcement and/or code enforcement come into your business to enforce unconstitutional covid restrictions, or even duly enacted criminal statutes, can you kick them out? Do they need a warrant?
One of the issues I’ll be litigating against the West Virginia Governor tomorrow morning in federal court, is whether his mask mandate and threats of arrest and business closure are unconstitutional because they order and encourage violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The Supreme Court long has recognized that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is applicable to commercial premises, as well as to private homes. See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541, 543, 546, 87 S.Ct. 1737, 1739 1741, 18 L.Ed.2d 943 (1967). An owner or operator of a business thus has an expectation of privacy in commercial property, which society is prepared to consider to be reasonable, see Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 361, 88 S.Ct. 507, 516, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967) (Harlan, J., concurring). This expectation exists not only with respect to traditional police searches conducted for the gathering of criminal evidence but also with respect to administrative inspections designed to enforce regulatory statutes. See Marshall v. Barlow’s, Inc., 436 U.S. 307, 312-313, 98 S.Ct. 1816, 1820-1821, 56 L.Ed.2d 305 (1978).
There may be some exceptions for heavily regulated business, such as coal mines. In Lesueur-Richmond Slate Corp. v. Fehrer, 666 F.3d 261 (4th Cir. 2012), the Fourth Circuit held that public officials may conduct warrantless searches of coal mines in Virginia, pursuant to the authorization to do so in Virginia’s Mineral Mine Safety Act, Va. Code Ann. 45.1-161.292:54(B), only because mining is a “heavily regulated industry” and because “certain conditions are met.” These conditions, set forth in the Supreme Court case of New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691, 107 S.Ct. 2636 (1987), require that such an inspection program “provide a constitutionally adequate substitute for a warrant.” Id. at 702. The Fourth Circuit applied the Supreme Court’s holding in New York v. Burger, requiring a statutory program in place to be subjected to analysis. See generally, New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691, 107 S.Ct. 2636, 96 L.Ed.2d 601 (1987). This could, and probably does, create an issue area around restaurant regulation. We shall see…..
Here is the Governor’s response to our Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, which is set for hearing in federal court on Monday morning. It was just filed last night, and I’m working on filing a reply, which is due by this afternoon.
You’ll notice that they argue that the Governor’s words are meaningless – that only his actual written executive orders should be reviewed, according to his lawyers. Throughout the response they mention that the Governor is utilizing some vague concept of executive emergency power. However, there is no such thing. They essentially argue that there is nothing the federal judiciary can do to stop him. We’ll see……
Today the West Virginia Governor issued yet another Executive Order – E.O. 77-20, which has “amended” the existing “mask mandate” issued by him in July. He’s now issued hundreds of pages of executive orders since first declaring a state of emergency back in March. He now mandates that everyone wear a mask in “all public indoor places,” presumably referring to any structure inhabited by “the public,” as it now seeks to force property owners and small businesses to enforce his unconstitutional edicts, and will punish them for not doing-so.
Even worse than the order itself, are the comments the Governor made when informing the peasants about his new law.
“Beginning at midnight tonight, I will issue a mandatory requirement to wear a face covering indoors in all public buildings at all times. This is not just when social distancing cannot be maintained, this is mandatory wearing your face covering in all buildings, at all times, other than your home,” Justice said.
So, while the order itself uses weaker and more ambiguous language, the Governor’s direct threats to the public said “all public buildings.” The actual order says “when individuals are able to physically isolate in a physically separate office or other space when no others are present….” As usual, the tyrant places responsibility for enforcement of his edicts on the already-suffering small businesses, as well as the employees. Although the order didn’t mention it, he says the next step is “closure” of the business for non-enforcement.
He also (apparently waiving attorney-client privilege) says that his lawyers said that if the peasants don’t follow his order, business owners are to call the police. Moreover, if someone isn’t following his order, “they’re obstructing justice,” presumably the misdemeanor criminal charge of obstructing an officer. He also threatened that business owners/operators who don’t follow and enforce his order will also be charged with misdemeanor criminal obstruction (which is punishable by up to a year in jail).
The governor also warned that if business owners don’t enforce his rules, “the next step will have to be closure.”
Justice also signaled law enforcement, citing conversations with legal counsel.
If patrons don’t follow the order, Justice told business owners to call the police. And if someone isn’t following the mask mandate, they’re obstructing justice, Justice said. The governor also said an obstruction of justice charge would apply to business owners/operators that are flaunting the rule.
By the way, there is no such thing as “obstruction of Justice” in West Virginia. I’m not convinced he wasn’t referring to himself in the third person when he said that, but in any event, “obstruction of an officer” is the crime on the books in West Virginia, and it’s a misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail. Fortunately, it’s not as vague as the federal crime of “obstruction of justice,” and actually requires a court to look at what the officer who was allegedly obstructed was investigating. Generally, if it is a felony crime under investigation, you “obstruct” an officer by lying to him or failing to identify yourself, under some circumstances. If it’s a misdemeanor, you are allowed to lie, or fail to identify yourself, generally. You cannot commit “obstruction” in West Virginia by doing something you are legally allowed to do. Read all about it in the controlling West Virginia case on “obstruction” in State v. Carney. In any event, only the legislature could amend the obstruction statute.
Meanwhile, the Governor has chosen not to call a special session of the legislature, and instead, has continued to rule by executive fiat, which is unconstitutional under the West Virginia Constitution. This cannot be allowed to continue. Numerous friends and clients of mine have resolved to file suit as soon as possible. We will file a challenge in West Virginia State Courts, as well as possibly federal court. We previously filed a challenge before the State Supreme Court, but were denied the relief we requested – probably on procedural grounds. We will begin the suit in the lower Circuit Court so as to avoid any technical procedural defenses. There must be a ruling on this constitutional crisis, in both the state and federal courts.
Here’s the original lawsuit we filed, if you want to read in detail my explanation on why these executive orders are in blatant violation of our West Virginia Constitution. We do already have one federal challenge pending on behalf of the Bridge Cafe & Bistro Restaurant in Putnam County, West Virginia. That case is still pending, and you can read the federal lawsuit in full at the link, as well as the explanation of why the E.O.’s are unconstitutional on federal grounds.
So far the petitioners will be the following State legislators: S. Marshall Wilson, Michael Azinger, Jim Butler, Thomas M. Bibby, and Mark Dean. In addition, we will include a representative sample of patriotic West Virginia owned small businesses, such as restaurants, gyms, and barber shops/hair salons. We may also include churches and private schools. There will be other private plaintiffs as well, including Tabitha Simmons who has thankfully started a gofundme fundraiser to cover legal expenses. I’ve already spoken with one other experienced WV lawyer who has agreed to assist on the case, and would like to bring in more (possibly Civil Rights lawyers from other states, if we can raise the money). So if you can help Tabitha raise the funds needed, please do. 100% of the funds will go towards this litigation against the tyrannical actions of the Governor. Here is the link:
Additionally, I will be on the Tom Roton Morning Show to discuss this new tyranny, first thing Monday morning – at around 8:00 a.m., I believe. We may also be planning a protest at the State Capitol, or possibly elsewhere. So please stay tuned……
ETA 11/16/20: We are putting together a legal team to file suit as soon as possible. For those of you small business owners concerned about the Governor’s threats to close your business and have you arrested, etc.., we believe this may implicate federal 4th Amendment protections. The Governor has threatened criminal arrest and prosecution for violations of his “mask mandate.” You are within your rights to ask for a warrant and to refuse consent to any government official entering your home or business pursuant to the Governor’s executive order. That won’t stop them, necessarily. But they will make themselves defendants in lawsuits afterwards. We believe this is applicable to county health officials as well. Video footage may be crucial.
Live Video on the Fight: Monday evening, 5:30 pm, Eastern:
ETA 11/17: BREAKING: Yesterday we filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in the Bridge Cafe & Bistro case, challenging the constitutionality of the Governor’s Friday statements and his new enhanced mask mandate. The Southern District of WV just now ordered the Governor to respond by 5pm this Thursday, and scheduled a hearing for November 23 at 10 am in federal court in Huntington.
This afternoon I filed a federal lawsuit against the West Virginia Governor and against Putnam County, and their health department inspector, on behalf of the Bridge Cafe & Bistro, located in Hurricane, West Virginia. We are seeking money damages and attorney’s fees for First Amendment retaliation, after Putnam County threatened my clients with closure in response to their Facebook post expressing their opinions and policies pertaining to the Governor’s mask mandate. We are also suing the Governor and asking the Court to declare the mask mandate, as well as the “Stay at Home Order” unconstitutional and unenforceable.
We believe it’s unconstitutional under the First Amendment, as the mask debate has become just that – political speech. We also believe they are in violation of the 14th Amendment due process clause because they’re an arbitrary deprivation of my clients’ property interests wholly without due process of law. Moreover, they’re also a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, because they treated restaurants in Putnam County, where only two deaths have occurred in over 6 months of the virus, just the same as they treated restaurants where the virus had a greater impact.
Additionally, we believe yesterday’s ruling from Judge Stickman in the Western District of Pennsylvania makes a good case that a Governor unilaterally choosing who is “essential” and who is “non-essential” in smoky rooms, rather than through an open, defined and rational process, is itself a constitutional violation. The Governor cannot enact legislation, period. Not in a time of war; not in a “State of Emergency” which has lasted over 6 months. The sole process for enactment of new laws in West Virginia is via the state legislature, according to the state Constitution. To the extent that counties attempt to enforce unconstitutional and unenforceable executive orders as if they were laws, we believe they can be sued for money damages under Section 1983.
Here’s the actual lawsuit which was filed this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. It doesn’t yet have a case number:
Even assuming it was constitutional, it doesn’t work. The virus is/was going to take its course. Where the lockdown measures were most tyrannical, the virus spread at the same rate, or even worse. Then there’s the unintended consequences and side effects of keeping people locked down, and destroying their small businesses, which is the reason why we weren’t supposed to attempt lockdowns in the first place.
POST-VIDEO UPDATE: I will be filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Bridge Cafe & Bistro in Putnam County, West Virginia, challenging the constitutionality of both the “Stay at Home Order” as well as the Governor’s “Mask Mandate.” You may recall this restaurant’s Facebook post expressing their First Amendment protected speech pertaining to the concept of forcing people to cover their faces:
This social media post, on what is obviously an intense political topic of current days, resulted in the Putnam County Health Board (they’re located in Hurricane, West Virginia) threatening administrative closure, for which they physically inspected the restaurant twice for mask compliance, and then charged them for it. They were dragged through the (actual) media, and through social media, in response to the substantive content of their speech, which is allowable for private citizens to do, but is a big no-no for the Government. Because, the First Amendment. Here’s some of the media aftermath:
Threatened with closure if they didn’t change the content of their opinions, and comply with the unconstitutional “Mask Mandate,” they had no choice but to comply:
We’re suing in federal district court for First Amendment retaliation, under Section 1983, and we’re also challenging the constitutionality of the “Mask Mandate” itself, as well as the “Stay at Home Order,” as it applies to this restaurant and the family who owns it. I’ll post the Complaint as soon as it’s filed. Due to the great timing, we’re now incorporating some of today’s ruling out of Pennsylvania. More about that below:
UpdateNo. 2: Today a federal judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania issued an opinion striking down the Pennsylvania Governor’s order closing “non-life-sustaining” (i.e., non-essential) businesses, as well as the order restricting large gatherings. It was a great opinion, and great timing as well, since we can now incorporate some of it into our federal lawsuit against the West Virginia Governor. It’s not binding in any way in our federal courts, since Pennsylvania is in a separate federal circuit. But it will be great guidance for the Court, and it also incorporates some of the federal rulings in Kentucky, which clipped the wings of their tyrant governor. Some of the highlights:
The fact is that the lockdowns imposed across the United States in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented in the history of our Commonwealth and our Country. They have never been used in response to any other disease in our history. They were not recommendations made by the CDC. They were unheard of by the people this nation until just this year. It appears as though the imposition of lockdowns in Wuhan and other areas of China—a nation unconstrained by concern for civil liberties and constitutional norms—started a domino effect where one country, and state, after another imposed draconian and hitherto untried measures on their citizens. The lockdowns are, therefore, truly unprecedented from a legal perspective…..
As with the lockdown, Defendants’ shutdown of all “non-life-sustaining” businesses is unprecedented in the history of the Commonwealth and, indeed, the nation. While historical records show that certain economic activities were curtailed in response to the Spanish Flu pandemic, there has never been an instance where a government or agent thereof has sua sponte divided every business in the Commonwealth into two camps—“life-sustaining” and “non-life- sustaining”—and closed all of the businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining” (unless that business obtained a discretionary waiver). The unprecedented nature of the business closure—even in light of historic emergency situations—makes its examination difficult from a constitutional perspective. It simply does not neatly fit with any precedent ever addressed by our courts. Never before has the government exercised such vast and immediate power over every business, business owner, and employee in the Commonwealth. Never before has the government taken a direct action which shuttered so many businesses and sidelined so many employees and rendered their ability to operate, and to work, solely dependent on government discretion. As with the analysis of lockdowns, the unprecedented nature of the business shutdowns poses a challenge to its review. Nevertheless, having reviewed this novel issue in light of established Due Process principles, the Court holds that the business closure orders violated the Fourteenth Amendment….
An economy is not a machine that can be shut down and restarted at will by government. It is an organic system made up of free people each pursuing their dreams. The ability to support oneself is essential to free people in a free economy. The late Justice William O. Douglas observed: The right to work, I had assumed, was the most precious liberty that man possesses. Man has indeed as much right to work as he has to live, to be free, to own property. The American ideal was stated by Emerson in his essay on Politics, ‘A man has a right to be employed, to be trusted, to be loved, to be revered.’ It does many men little good to stay alive and free and propertied, if they cannot work. To work means to eat. It also means to live. For many it would be better to work in jail, than to sit idle on the curb. The great values of freedom are in the opportunities afforded man to press to new horizons, to pit his strength against the forces of nature, to match skills with his fellow man. Barsky v. Board of Regents of University of State of New York, 347 U.S. 442, 472 (1954) (Douglas, J, dissenting). In a free state, the ability to earn a living by pursing one’s calling and to support oneself and one’s family is not an economic good, it is a human good.
There was a good article from the Mises Institute, The Evidence Keeps Piling up: Lockdowns Don’t Work, by Ryan McMaken. Here in West Virginia, our it seems that it was our Governor’s proudest life achievement so far, that he “shut down” the state, and then got to create an entire new form of government, which he titled, “The Comeback.” At least while mommy and daddy legislature is still in hiding….. As McMaken noted:
I’ve been saying, that since West Virginia’s greatest cause of death – one of the worst in the country – is heart disease. Yet our morbidly obese governor obviously doesn’t appreciate that fact. Our usual number of deaths due to heart disease floats just under 5,000. I wonder what it’s going to be this year? We’ll see, but it’s going to be high. This has been the year of the politician and the bureaucrat protecting themselves against the peasants. As McMaken describes, this was planned way in advance, during the Bush Administration, but at the time they viewed the concept of social distancing as “impractical, unnecessary and politically infeasible.” Now we have things like this occurring in a Presidential election:
One of the reasons the Bush bureaucrats decided a lockdown was infeasible is because lockdowns don’t work:
There is more than one reason, but one major reason is that lockdowns have never been shown to be particularly effective. And this lack of success in containment must also be weighed with the very real costs of forced isolation.
There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza. A World Health Organization (WHO) Writing Group, after reviewing the literature and considering contemporary international experience, concluded that “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical.” Despite this recommendation by experts, mandatory large-scale quarantine continues to be considered as an option by some authorities and government officials.
The interest in quarantine reflects the views and conditions prevalent more than 50 years ago, when much less was known about the epidemiology of infectious diseases and when there was far less international and domestic travel in a less densely populated world. It is difficult to identify circumstances in the past half-century when large-scale quarantine has been effectively used in the control of any disease. The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.
But despite the 2006 conclusion, as the paper noted, politicians and bureaucrats don’t necessarily act in the best interests of people, or the nation, but rather in their own personal best interests. They will choose the fork in the road that increases their power – even if it decreases the freedom of the citizenry. That’s the clear explanation surrounding the West Virginia Governor. Clearly he’s adept at acting in his own best interests. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his bills. He obtained 24 MILLION DOLLARS IN PPP MONEY for his companies, and so on. Are we to believe that he took control over an entire state government just because he loves us, and he can’t bear to see us suffer? Where was his empathy when he was stiffing regular people and small businesses on his bills? When he said, here in West Virginia, “we’re all in this thing together,” he didn’t mention anything about the fact that the had lawyers and accountants behind the scenes getting him 24 million bucks while the rest of us peasants suffer, did he?
It’s about a power grab – not about saving lives. The evidence shows that lockdowns don’t work. They didn’t work:
Measuring from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown—which range from April 5 to April 18—it turns out that lockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus. States with longer, stricter lockdowns also had larger Covid outbreaks. The five places with the harshest lockdowns—the District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts—had the heaviest caseloads.
Donald Luskin, The Wall Street Journal
There are other studies, as the Misis Institute listed:
A July study published by The Lancet concluded: “The authors identified a negative association between the number of days to any lockdown and the total reported cases per million, where a longer time prior to implementation of any lockdown was associated with a lower number of detected cases per million.”
In April, T.J. Rogers looked at “a simple one-variable correlation of deaths per million and days to shutdown” and found that “The correlation coefficient was 5.5%—so low that the engineers I used to employ would have summarized it as “no correlation” and moved on to find the real cause of the problem. (The trendline sloped downward—states that delayed more tended to have lower death rates—but that’s also a meaningless result due to the low correlation coefficient.)”
In May, Elaine He at Bloomberg showed “there’s little correlation between the severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities.”
In an August 1 study, also published by The Lancet, the authors concluded, “Rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people.”
The evidence shows that there was no stopping the activity of the virus, where it was already present. Not even the incredibly-obnoxious virtue-signaling step of redoing your social media profile picture with you wearing a mask, had any positive effect on the pandemic. It was nothing more than political speech. Political speech which politicized a virus. The evidence shows nothing governments did, which had any effect on the virus where it was already present:
In a paper published with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), authors Andew Atkeson et al.found that covid-19 deaths followed a similar pattern “virtually everywhere in the world” and that “Failing to account for this familiar pattern risks overstating the importance of policy mandated NPIs (non pharmaceutical intervention) for shaping the progression of this deadly pandemic.”
So does this weak correlation between lockdowns and effect on COVID justify the tyrannical actions of governors across the United States, and most especially here in West Virginia?
Extraordinary measures require extraordinary evidence. And the burden of proof is on those who seek to use the coercive power of the state to force people into their homes, cripple the economy, and abolish countless basic freedoms for the duration. Have the advocates for lockdowns made their case? It’s hard to see how they have. For one, advocates for lockdowns need to present obvious and overwhelming evidence that lockdowns bring big benefits far in excess of the no-lockdown approach. They have not done so. Moreover, they have not shown that a lack of lockdowns is anywhere near as dangerous as they have claimed in the name of pushing lockdowns to begin with. We can already see what the no-lockdown scenario looks like. It looks like Sweden, and that’s a better outcome than many prolockdown regimes can claim. Governments are nonetheless likely to continue claiming their lockdowns worked. In ancient days, a witch doctor might perform a rain dance on Tuesday and claim credit when it rained on Wednesday. Lockdowns are increasingly looking like the modern equivalent of a rain dance.
That’s what Governor Justice is doing. He’s doing a rain dance for the public. Some thank him for it. Some hate him for it. And all suffer for it. Well, except the (executive branch) politicians and bureaucrats…..