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Governors' Holiday Menus Include Coronavirus Stress Test for the Constitution

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File

During the pandemic, what are some of America's governors serving up for the Thanksgiving through Christmas season?

A stress test for the Constitution and a crackdown on individual liberty.


That's how U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito aptly characterized the situation in a recent, stirring keynote virtual address at the conservative Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention.

Alito's remarks came days before several governors imposed their latest, newest shutdown edicts and their Thanksgiving gathering rules. The pandemic had already put great stress on individual liberties, and now, governors are adding even more.

Some governors don't want you to hug or sing in your home with others. Some want neighbors to call the police if they see more than six people at your home for Thanksgiving. Some, like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are upset that law enforcement won't enforce their edicts. He says police can't pick and choose what rules to enforce. (He forgets about sanctuary cities.)

The nose of the camel comes to mind. Once that big-government camel gets its nose under the tent, the next thing you know the camel is sitting next to you, demanding snacks.

Some of the governors, like California's Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, belong to the "rules for thee but not for me" school of public policy.

Newsom was caught dining maskless in a large group of Democratic politicos at the exclusive Michelin-star restaurant The French Laundry.

Yes, it makes him a hypocrite, but then, he's a politician.

What all this does is anger and confuse people and encourage them not to follow precautions.


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, wants Oregonians to call police if they see a neighbor hosting a Thanksgiving dinner that violates her edict against gatherings of more than six people.

"This is no different from what happens if there's a party down the street and it's keeping everyone awake. What do neighbors do? They call law enforcement because it's too noisy. This is just like that. It's like a violation of a noise ordinance."

No, Gov. Brown. It's not like that. It is repressive government overreach. And it's exactly the kind of thing that causes Americans to rebel and ignore the rules.

Gov. Brown didn't seem all that bothered about rules when she allowed left-wing anarchists to take over Portland for months. They beat people up and tried to burn down the federal courthouse.

But Brown is certainly agitated about Thanksgiving.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, also a Democrat, doesn't want you to hug. Or sing in your own home.

And no loud music at Thanksgiving, in your home, because that might make others raise their voices to be heard.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, another Democrat, shut down restaurants and bars and prohibits indoor gatherings in his state -- unless guests have quarantined for 14 days prior and can show the host a negative COVID-19 test.

But he doesn't stop there. Inslee doesn't want people of his state to congregate outdoors, in their yards, in groups of more than five people.


That's mom, dad and three kids. And no more. At your own home.

In many of these states, including Illinois, liquor stores and casinos were kept open for a time. They were considered "essential" businesses.

But churches were closed, or attendance was severely limited.

In his speech to the Federalist Society, Alito took pains to say he was not diminishing the severity of the virus's threat to public health.

He did not say anything about the legality of the COVID-19 restrictions. He didn't address whether it was good public policy or bad public policy.

"I'm a judge, not a policymaker. All that I'm saying is this: And I think it is an indisputable statement of fact, we have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020."

But he did make clear that our First Amendment right to free speech and the free exercise of religion are rapidly becoming "second-class" liberties.

Predictably, the left loved it when the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, their liberal icon, offered up opinions on matters that could have ended up before the court, like President Trump's tax returns.

And predictably, the left hated Alito's remarks, including Mark Joseph Stern of Slate, who condemned the talk as a partisan "grievance laden tirade."

But Ed Whelan, president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, writing in the National Review, noted that Alito confined his remarks to matters he had already ruled on in written opinion.


But why take their word for it, or mine?

Over the next few days, you might have some time on your hands.

And as you make that last Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwich or wonder if you can get one of those COVID-19 vaccines before New Year's Eve, you might do yourself a favor.

You might want to see what Alito said, in his own words, yourself. It's out there, online, for all to see.

The coronavirus is serious. I won't minimize it. I can't. As a Type 1 diabetic with a "comorbidity," I hope I don't get sick. I'm trying to be extremely careful.

For the first time in decades, we won't be attending family Thanksgiving at my brother's home. We might not even host our traditional Christmas dinner at our place.

But that's our decision. I'm not telling you what to do or how to live your lives or whether you can go to a liquor store but not to church. It's not my business.

You're an American. That's your business.

And I'm no governor.

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