Courts are beginning to recognize that public health powers, while broad, are not a blank check.
Jacob Sullum 5/20/2020
The recent court decisions overturning COVID-19 lockdowns in Wisconsin and Oregon
focused on abstruse issues of statutory interpretation. But both cases
also addressed a more fundamental question: Is the rule of law suspended
during a public health emergency?
In response to the COVID-19
pandemic, state officials have imposed unprecedented restrictions on our
liberties and livelihoods, acting on the assumption that they can do
whatever they think is necessary to protect the public from a
potentially deadly disease. The courts, which were initially reluctant
to second-guess state responses to COVID-19, are beginning to recognize
that public health powers, while broad, are not a blank check.
Wisconsin case involved a dispute between two branches of the state
government. The Republican leaders of the state legislature argued that
Andrea Palm, a Democrat who runs the Wisconsin Department of Health
Services, was exercising powers she had never been granted when she
ordered the closure of "nonessential" businesses and confined residents
to their homes except for purposes she approved, threatening violators
with fines and jail..........To Read More....