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Op-ed

Horowitz: It’s time to end the great American COVID-19 police state

Step back and take stock of how much power has been seized in just three weeks

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We now have the most severe, widespread, and protracted form of martial law in our nation's history … except as it applies to dangerous criminals who are undeterred and released. How much worse will we allow this to get until we call a foul on these gross constitutional violations?

As I observed last week, states have wide latitude to forcibly quarantine individuals or groups of people from the general population. But they don't have the power to shut down the entire general population. Also, as the Supreme Court has said many times, there are times when life, liberty, and property can be infringed upon, but it must be narrowly tailored to the least invasive means needed to achieve the compelling state interest. What is happening now is anything but narrow.

Consider the following:

  • A 19-year-old woman was given a citation and forced to go back home after a state trooper in York County, Pennsylvania, caught her simply "going for a drive." She was alone in a car, the ultimate social distancing. There is no way under any emergency power that such a broad, arbitrary and gratuitous edict can be justified under the Constitution, given the severity of its restriction on personal liberty. Meanwhile, subways are still open!
  • Numerous states have arbitrarily banned nonessential medical services, defined as pretty much anything that is not an urgent emergency. It would be one thing if the areas were overrun with COVID-19 patients, but as I reported Monday, these hospitals are in fact empty and are now laying off vital medical staff because of the unlawful edicts.
  • In Los Angeles County, a paddleboarder was arrested for being in the ocean … alone! The San Diego sheriff bragged about giving people a $1,000 citation for sitting alone in their cars at the beach. Again, no violations of federal health and distancing guidance occurred. This is straight unconstitutional fascism.
  • David Schuster of Winnebago, Minnesota, was hit with a criminal complaint after he was caught playing cards with three of his buddies in his bar. The bar was closed to the public, but the policeman saw the lights on. He faces up to 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. I'm sure that bar was spreading the virus as much as subways and buses. Perhaps more than the 86-year-old anti-abortion protester who was given a citation by San Francisco police for dropping leaflets against abortion. Meanwhile, abortion clinics are open while hip replacements are banned.
  • Evidently, the virus is worse at night and attacks people when it's dark. Cities like Laredo, Texas, are now adopting a mandatory curfew after 10 p.m. unless you are wearing an ID or have a letter that shows you are an essential worker. A city government that has no problem harboring illegal aliens and bristles at immigration enforcement as "show me your papers: totalitarianism has no problem applying it to Americans walking or driving alone, which has zero bearing on spreading a virus.
  • For years we were told that to use the military more aggressively at our international border to repel an invasion – the quintessential use of the military – was somehow a violation of the Posse Comitatus law, which bars the feds from using the military to enforce domestic laws. Now, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the same man who championed the program of training Saudis on our military bases, is signaling that governors can use the National Guard to enforce house arrest edicts.
  • Google is now developing a tool to track people to see if they are following the edicts. The New York Times already publicized a heat map of movement based on cellphone data. For years, law enforcement has been stripped of every tracking tool to catch criminals and terrorists. Everything was a concern for alleged criminals' privacy. Now, they are searching for any innovative means to use against everyday Americans.

At what point will we the people stand up to this capricious nonsense, especially as these same politicians release criminals and illegal aliens, while lying to us about the math and science behind their unilateral edicts? Why is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis the only leader who recognizes that "we can't start ripping up the Constitution?"

The same states that couldn't set their conditions for early voting or regulate abortion clinic health standards without a federal judge intervening are now free to crush our life, liberty, and property at their most basic level – free of any due process, time constraints, or judicial oversight. The only judicial review now is for abortion clinics, criminals, and illegal aliens.

Remember, if we don't rise up now, these tyrants are just getting started. If you are wondering what is in store for us in the coming days, just look at what some other countries that were less free than we to begin with have been doing. Panama now requires men and women to go out for essential services only on alternating, days and nobody is allowed out on Sunday. Some eastern European countries are clamping down on freedom of speech.

If you think this won't happen in America, just step back and take stock of how much power has been seized in just three weeks.

It's one thing to declare a lockdown for 24 hours based on concern of an existential threat. But we are into the fourth week of this, and all the models that guided leaders were proven wrong from day one. Are we going to remain like frogs in boiling water?

One last thing…
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