NEWS PROVIDED BY
E.W. Jackson Sr.
April 8, 2020
OPINION, April 8, 2020 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by E.W. Jackson Sr.:
There is much speculation about the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. How long will it take for the economy to recover? Will this forever change the social behavior of Americans? Is shaking hands a practice of the past? Is social distancing the way of the future?
However, there are far more profound questions that no one seems to be asking. Are we witnessing the permanent erosion of respect for the Constitution? Are we allowing state and local governments to exercise power beyond their constitutional boundaries?
America is founded on the principle that freedom and fundamental rights do not come from government, but from God. The Declaration of Independence says that all human beings "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Governments are instituted "to secure these rights."
We are rightly alarmed by the threat of the coronavirus, but an even more dangerous long-term threat is how this crisis is eroding our God-given rights under the Constitution. California Gov. Gavin Newsome, gleaming with satisfaction, said recently that he has the capacity "to establish a framework of martial law."
However, there is nothing in the Constitution which gives him or any other elected leader that authority. "We the people" delegate limited authority to our elected representatives. Martial law exceeds those limitations, even during a national crisis.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened churches and synagogues with permanent closure if they "...attempt to hold services after having been told...not to."
Is the mere declaration of a governor or mayor all that is needed to suspend the First Amendment? Have we allowed the coronavirus to so erode our national character that no one raises a constitutional objection to a governmental threat to permanently close any house of worship?
Our Constitution is not a symbolic document to be cast aside when it is inconvenient to follow it. We must cling all the more tightly to it during a national crisis because that is precisely when liberty is most fragile.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during one of his daily press briefings, "When do we get back to normal? I don't think we get back to normal. I think we get to a new normal." Governors and mayors have turned presidential guidelines into dictatorial orders. Is that the new normal? If so, it subverts the very nature of representative government.
Democrat Governor Ralph Northam recently issued a stay-at-home order in Virginia - Executive Order Fifty Five - lasting until June 10th, the day after the scheduled statewide Republican Primary. Even the most naive find that suspicious. Violators face a possible year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
For his authority, he cited Article V, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia, and Section 44-146.17 of the Code of Virginia. Neither of those gives him authority to do what he is doing. Article V, Section 7, says, "The Governor shall be commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Commonwealth and shall have power to embody such forces to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, and enforce the execution of the laws."
Section 44-146.17, says, "The Governor shall be Director of Emergency Management. He shall take such action from time to time as is necessary for the adequate promotion and coordination of state and local emergency services activities relating to the safety and welfare of the Commonwealth in time of disasters."
No reasonable interpretation of these provisions gives the governor power to place citizens under what is effectively house arrest. He can command Virginia's armed forces and coordinate state and local emergency services, but nothing more. Therefore, his Executive Order is unlawful.
No governor, mayor or any other officeholder has the authority to deprive citizens of liberty by edict. That is not "due process of law" as required by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Some employers have taken it upon themselves to issue employees "papers" to prove to law enforcement that they have a right to be outdoors or traveling. It may be well intentioned, but it still evokes images of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and South Africa during apartheid. The very idea of police being ordered to check citizens "papers" should shock the conscience.
Americans are law abiding, courageous and self-sacrificing. That's why there was massive volunteering after the Pearl Harbor and 911 attacks. We respond to duty, not dictates. We dare not allow hype and hysteria over the coronavirus to rob us of our national character as the land of liberty.
Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction...It must be fought for, protected...or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
That remains true even during a pandemic, and we must never allow our elected officials to forget that we do not work for them. They work for us. We give them their marching orders, not the other way around.
E.W. Jackson is a nationally syndicated radio host on American Family Radio. He is founder & president of STAND (www.standamerica.us), Bishop and Senior Pastor of The Called Church (www.thecalled.org), and former Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of Virginia.
SOURCE E.W. Jackson Sr.
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