A group of prominent conservatives have launched a campaign to get the Trump Administration’s Justice Department to file lawsuits against local leaders who have imposed tough social distancing demands in attempts to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Those behind the campaign include Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, and Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots, among others, all of whom sent a letter to the Justice Department this past week arguing for the lawsuits. It’s as if they live in a self-induced delusion in which leaders simply attempting to secure public health are actually some kind of nefarious schemers against liberty.
"Wednesday’s raucous protest may have been an astro-turf operation…[but] Republican leaders and their wealthy donors didn’t show up in Lansing—which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the safety risks involved." https://t.co/n3D9xXHLQA via @michiganadvance
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) April 18, 2020
In their letter, the prominent conservatives insist:
‘Many see this crisis as an opportunity to reduce liberty and enlarge government power in permanent ways. We urge the DOJ to take numerous, specific actions, right now, to focus and act against this disturbing new danger to our country’s future.’
Opponents of Michigan's social distancing measures blocked a hospital entrance in protest.
"The cars were blocking one of our hospitals, so an ambulance literally wasn't able to get into the bay for ten minutes," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. https://t.co/CkdVU5lXi3
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 16, 2020
These concerns are grounded in delusion. Some on the right have claimed that social distancing demands infringe on Americans’ rights to bear arms. But nowhere in the Constitution is there a clause insisting that every second of every day, even amidst a global pandemic killing thousands of Americans a day, every single American must have unfettered access to buy whatever guns they want.
The scene on Grand Ave. in downtown Lansing about 15 minutes ago where conservatives have jammed streets around the Capitol to protest Gov. Whitmer's stay-at-home order. It took about 10 minutes for this ambulance to evade traffic by turning the wrong way down a one-way street. https://t.co/xxoGnfg3EK
— Gongwer Michigan (@GongwerMichigan) April 15, 2020
Nonetheless, those behind the letter called local leaders “petty, would-be dictators” and insisted that they’d perpetrated “rampant abuses of constitutional rights and civil liberties” amidst their Coronavirus response efforts. First of all, that’s not true. Justice Department lawyers themselves have previously written that “[as] a general matter, prohibiting large gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 undeniably advances a compelling government interest.” There’s no plot against liberty — or whatever. Rather, there’s a comprehensive response across the U.S. picking up the slack left by the struggling White House, which waited months to act beyond restrictions on travel from China, where the Coronavirus first emerged.
Trump Calls For Armed Insurrection.
That meets the definition of Sedition, punishable by 20 years in prison.
18 U.S. Code § 2384. Seditious conspiracy https://t.co/ZpyGrsebJ5
— Dennis S Brotman 🇺🇸 #DemCast #DemCastNJ (@DenbrotS) April 18, 2020
Secondly — do those protesting social distancing demands seriously want to risk their lives and those of everyone around them just to prove a point? Intermingling before the virus is under control makes the virus spread and kill more people.
The Justice Department said that they “are reviewing the letter,” according to POLITICO. Trump frequently retweets posts from Fitton, whose work often includes brazen mischaracterizations of reality, so he might be especially receptive.
Donald Trump is urging his followers to stage an insurrection during a pandemic and it’s a pretty safe bet that there won’t be a single prominent Republican with the political courage to say a thing about it. Vote them all out. It’s the only solution.
— Andrew Weinstein (@Weinsteinlaw) April 18, 2020
This past week, after protests against social distancing demands sprung up in a handful of states, Trump posted a slew of all caps messages calling for the “liberation” of states with Democratic governors demanding social distancing.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) commented:
‘[Trump’s] unhinged rantings and calls for people to “liberate” states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before. The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies – even while his own administration says the virus is real, it is deadly and we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted.’
Numerous states, including Washington, have joined regional pacts to coordinate their own Coronavirus response efforts distinct from the president.
The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies – even while his own administration says the virus is real, it is deadly and we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted. 2/7
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) April 17, 2020