(UnitedVoice.com) – How many of your rights and liberties are you willing to give up to empower the government to protect you? A bill for consideration in the New York legislature would empower the Governor of New York to act as prosecutor, judge, and juror. Assembly Bill A416 would allow a governor to detain anyone deemed a “potential” public health threat during a declared state of health emergency. The powers granted in the bill are so widespread, it creates more questions than there are answers.
Perhaps the greatest question is, how will the bill ensure Constitutional rights and civil liberties are upheld?
In the spring of 2020, Attorney General William Barr said that many restrictions by governors to protect people from COVID-19 were going too far and were akin to house arrest. New York is taking the concept of quarantining people to an even higher and more questionable level.
The authority granted to a governor in this bill allows him or her to forcibly detain a “potentially” sick person in a government built and run facility. However, it’s worse than that: Anyone who comes in contact with a sick person can also be nabbed. The bill is so broad, a forced apprehension could be indefinite and non-consensual and lacks checks and balances to ensure that citizens’ rights are not violated.
How Could a Bill This Extreme Be Proposed?
In 2015, the bill was initially introduced to contain Ebola but was unable to pass the legislature. However, the draconian bill was resurrected and amended to add the dangerous language for the 2021-2022 legislative year under the guise of protecting the public from COVID-19. However, the bill doesn’t apply to just the COVID-19 pandemic. It could apply to any health emergency declaration.
Legislators often say they aim to protect the well-being of society. However, the purpose of the US Constitution is to protect the liberties of the individual. New York has a recent history of ignoring our foundational document. In October, the US Supreme Court ruled that the state violated the US Constitution when it shut down or limited churches despite their First Amendment guarantee under the freedom of religion clause.
Will the New York legislature move to pass the bill? It’s unknown at this point if it will get a committee or floor vote. However, the very idea the bill was presented in the first place says a lot about liberal Democrats’ thoughts about citizens’ rights and the Constitution.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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