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There’s No ‘Science’ That Justifies Illegal Power Grabs

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, Pool

In present day Michigan, patients denied access to medical services by Governor Gretchen Whitmer die from complications resulting from the denial, and groups seeking to express opinions that are not to the governor’s liking are threatened with jail. 

Nationally, former Vice President Joe Biden runs television ads declaring that he will implement a national mask mandate if and when he’s inaugurated — four months from now.

We are told that all of this is necessary because we must “follow the science,” and that elected governors — and Mr. Biden, should he be elected — are the only people wise enough to interpret the science and divine the correct course of action. Not legislatures, and certainly not the American people.

And so I ask: what science supports calling for a national mask mandate four months from now? 

What science makes it necessary for Governor Whitmer to threaten our client One Nation, a group inspired by urban black pastors, with jail for seeking to rally against cancel culture? For that matter, what science entitles the governor to violate her own orders and march with protesters whom she does agree with?

What science supported the practice of forcing nursing homes to accept COVID patients, resulting in more than 40 percent of our national COVID deaths occurring in nursing homes? What scientific reasoning justified quarantining persons in need of medical care away from that care?

“Science” is not the sole arbiter of our freedoms, and safety is not the sole aim of governance.

But then, such decisions are not about science. They are about power.

This is why governors are claiming emergency powers to suspend duly passed state laws that protect election integrity – laws requiring voter identification and witnesses for absentee ballots, as well as laws that require election officials to compare signatures to ensure an absentee ballot was actually cast by the voter. 

And because it is about power, the only persons punished for violating orders are those who offend the governors of our nation — governors who have declared themselves to be above the lawmaking process and to actually be the law. We see this in the way they describe violence as speech and speech as violence. The greatest crime is not failing to have your mask cover your nose and mouth, but rather challenging the cultural orthodoxy they seek to impose.

Why else is the State of Michigan marshalling its public health and law enforcement resources to investigate and prosecute Karl Manke, a barber in Owosso, Michigan, who had the audacity to return to what he has been doing for 60 years — cutting the hair of customers who voluntarily come to his shop? He does so with a mask, and hand sanitizer is present. But he also criticized the governor, publicly.

And so, he might go to jail. And he might lose his license to cut hair. And while we’re on it – why do we need the state to license barbers in the first place? Have you ever even considered whether a hairdresser or barber even has a state license before you sat in the chair?

Again, it’s not about safety. It’s about power.

Maybe these sorts of emergency actions are justifiable as a temporary measure when foreign troops are invading our soil, or when the duly-elected legislature has been incapacitated. But they are certainly not acceptable when the democratic process is still functioning like normal. 

When did the left lose faith in democracy? Or maybe more to the point, did they ever have any real faith that the people they deride as “deplorables” can be trusted with democratic freedoms?

The arrogance necessary to assume such broad power is reflected in Governor Whitmer’s claim that her decisions have saved thousands of lives. 


The governor assumes that her neighbors and fellow Michiganders will not exercise their freedoms with responsibility unless she threatens them with jail. 

It is becoming abundantly clear that we should have protected the vulnerable rather than quarantine healthy people away from their hopes, dreams, families, and livelihoods.

When did flattening the curve become crushing dreams?

And when did it become okay to interfere with a patient-physician relationship?

I am directing a project that is representing those harmed by these arbitrary orders and their capricious enforcement. Recently we filed a brief in a case brought by Michigan health care providers against their governor challenging her exercise of such extraordinary powers to prevent doctors from treating their patients in non-emergency situations. 

The problem is that Governor Whitmer clearly does not understand what constitutes a medical emergency, and doctors are being threatened with the loss of their medical licenses based on the governor’s distressingly vague orders, resulting in doctors being afraid to treat a wide variety of medical conditions.

And so, as Governor Whitmer claimed to save lives, these doctors were forced to watch their patients suffer and even die because of her orders.

At least the Michigan Supreme Court seems to be concerned. Last week, the Court hosted oral arguments in the case. About two hours into the argument, Justice Stephen Markman challenged the governor’s attorney by asking what standards and circumstances would be necessary to rein in the newfound sweeping, unilateral authority the governor has given herself. Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa A. Hammoud didn’t have a real answer. 

It is evident to all who have watched over the past six months that the left is more in love with “emergency powers” than with the principles of representative democracy. 

I wonder what other “emergencies” are on the horizon that they believe democracy is ill-suited to handle.

Phill Kline is the Former Kansas Attorney General. He currently serves as Pulpit Pastor of Amherst Baptist Church, a law school professor, and director of the Amistad Project of The Thomas More Society. Previously, he served as president of the Midwest Association of Attorneys General, was on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, and was co-chairperson of the Violent Sexual Predator Apprehension Task Force. He was a Kansas House member for eight years where he chaired the Appropriations Committee and the Taxation Committee and authored victims rights laws and welfare reform.

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