John Roberts Sides With Leftist Justices, Okays Cali's COVID Crackdowns On Churches

P. Gardner Goldsmith | June 1, 2020
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In a 5-4 majority decision displaying more traps and holes than a pro golf course, SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts Friday night sided with the leftists on the bench to rule against California churches seeking an injunction against Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D) lockdowns and restrictions on attendance.

It’s a ruling that echoes Roberts’ shocking 2012 vote with leftists claiming to determine the so-called “constitutionality” of Obamacare’s “individual mandate” and its penalty. And it’s as absurd and infuriating as that abysmal and anti-constitutional decision, relying not on any single word of the actual Constitution but on previous rulings, many of them among some of the worst in U.S. history, and most not even pertinent to the issue at hand.

The issue is that since March 19, when Gavin Newsom issued his “Stay-At-Home” decree, churches and other places of worship in California have been prohibited from operating as their pastors and congregations choose. Even now, after Newsom on May 25 beneficently blessed the churches with “permission” to congregate with no more than 100, spaced apart as he dictates, these religious Americans are being restricted in the free practice of their beliefs.

And against Newsom’s commands, and after being insultingly rebuffed by the Federal 9th Circuit, South Bay United Pentecostal Church and numerous others on May 23, asked the Supreme Court for Emergency Injunctive Relief.

But, treating the plaintiffs like Romper-Room children, the majority (composed of Roberts, Ginsberg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer) dispelled the immense problems of Newsom’s crackdown, first pointing out something that wasn’t even pertinent, the difference between an injunction and a stay.

Why Americans needed to know about a stay is anyone’s guess, since a stay wasn’t requested, and is completely irrelevant to the case. This was a request for INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AGAINST STATE ACTION. It’s pretty simple.

But, to add insult to injury, Roberts and his leftist cohorts went on to offer this utter nonsense.

Our Constitution principally entrusts ‘[t]he safety and the health of the people’ to the politically accountable officials of the States ‘to guard and protect.’

Which, anyone who has read the Constitution can mention, are words that AREN’T IN THE CONSTITUTION.

The Constitution is clear. The Preamble states the intent of the Founders to:

…form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. 

The text itself -- specifying the branches, enumerated powers, and amendments -- lays out how they intended these goals to be achieved. By “general Welfare” they meant prosperity through voluntary market exchange, not redistribution of wealth, since that makes all residents potential targets for government tax theft and runs counter to the goal of insuring liberty, justice, or the philosophical rational for the state itself -- that being property and liberty protection against attacks by other people.

No, the current majority of SCOTUS justices didn’t cite a single word of the Constitution – literally not ONE word – in this “Eleventh Hour” late Friday ruling.

They lifted their magic phrase about "health and safety of the people" from a terrible, insulting, and dangerous 1905 Supreme Court decision in a case called Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a case that saw the court invent a “public health police power” for states that doesn’t exist AT ALL.

To stress the point. Newsom’s edict is an inarguable attack on the free practice of religion assured in the First Amendment, on the Fourth Amendment protection against warrantless searches and seizures, on the Fifth Amendment assurance of due process and prohibition of property takings done without “just compensation”, on the Sixth Amendment assurance of a fair and speedy trial before an impartial jury of peers, on the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment (there can be no punishment if there has been no trial), on the Fourteenth Amendment reiteration of due process and equal protection of law, and on the Contract Clause found in Article One.

And in their zeal to give pantomime backing to Newsom, Roberts and this leftist SCOTUS majority actually cited not the Constitution, but a 1905 Supreme Court ruling that backed, get this, the forced vaccination of a Massachusetts man and invented out of whole cloth this fictitious and mythical “public health police power” they claim the state possesses.

This cannot be stressed more intensely. There is no such power. Not only does the Constitution not provide for it, most of the Bill of Rights stands in opposition to the idea that a state can infringe on an innocent person’s bodily integrity or private property, on the right to speak, right to associate, right to have a contract fulfilled, right to a jury trial, and to equal protection under the law. There is absolutely no Constitutional “public health police power”, least of all one somehow allowing forced injections, or stay-at-home orders, or closure of churches, or closure of businesses, or prohibition of public gatherings to protest the government.

And in addition to there being no such constitutional provision, there is no logical basis, nor philosophical foundation, for the term “public health” itself. There is only individual health. The so-called “public” in question here is just a word applied to individuals. The state is not a person and cannot be healthy or unhealthy. What these obtuse judges mean is the health of the population. But the population is composed of individuals. When it comes to liberty, there is no “public”. And to claim the power to threaten the liberty of any single individual in order to “protect” the other individuals puts ALL individuals at risk of being the person singled out. Such a system is not internally supportable, logical, or universalizable, for it actually makes everyone a potential target, undermining its own so-called rationale.

If the state has a “public police power” and can tell people to stay at home, or not congregate with others in churches unless they show they are not at risk of infecting people with a deadly pathogen, what happens when something like COVID19 is gone, but common colds still exist, and a portion of the population is immunocompromised?

Can Newsom demand that all “citizens” test “negative” each day before government lets them escape their homes? Does every transaction needing human contact with an item also require a government check that said item is disinfected? After all, if the state has a “police power” to “protect public health”, as they argue, there’s always a risk that a weak person could contract a natural pathogen from another human being.

Can the government force you to eat and drink and sleep the way it commands? All for the public health?

Arguing in favor of such nonsense is not only fatuous, it’s tyrannical.

And that is precisely what John Roberts and the leftists backed on Friday.

Hat’s off to Justices Thomas, Kavanaugh, Alito, and Gorsuch. Four men who bother to read the Constitution and think about the underlying philosophy of the Constitution.

Government does not exist to “protect public health.” It supposedly exists to stop people from infringing on the rights of others.

And the agency that does so today is, more often than not, the government, especially if one lives in Gavin Newsom’s California.

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