By KENNETH DEL VECCHIO
Conservative radio/TV show host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin has, for weeks, been expressing serious concerns about many state governments’ blatant violations of Americans’ constitutional rights via draconian executive orders in response to the coronavirus – and the disastrous effects these measures have and will cause to the U.S. economy. Levin’s April 2, 2020 “Daily Recap” page, for his podcast “The Mark Levin Show,” states: “The government can’t replace the free market. It’s been tried in Venezuela and other places and it doesn’t work. Not everyone can stay home. If they did, there would be no food on our tables, no medications in our pharmacies, and no supplies in our hospitals. Grocery chains, e-commerce, and home delivery services are thriving, but small banks, restaurants, bars and many small businesses have been ordered to shut down by the governors of their states. The federal government must place equal focus on the economy as it has in the healthcare sector.” Per Levin’s site, former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint called in “to warn that we will not have the country that we want if we continue doing what the left wants.”
Although Americans definitively must abide by the new laws restricting their in-person assembly (just as they must follow any other laws with which they may disagree), they should strongly and loudly voice their opinions in opposition of these civil liberties-destructive/communist-style measures. At the same time, all should take the coronavirus seriously, just the same as they should take seriously the swine flu and all serious strains of the flu. That said, rather than the government forcing Americans into a freedom-less submission, people should be permitted to utilize their own acumen and good sense—and take certain normal precautions. Washing hands, being sanitary, and following the advice of medical experts is clearly the wise path. The very elderly and those with significant pre-existing conditions (and anyone thoughtful) should be wary and judiciously interact with others – through their own choice and judgment. Compelling all of the populous to succumb to dictatorial government strangleholds, however, is not only unwarranted, but illicit and unconstitutional.
This is not an alien invasion.
This is not war.
This is not a nuclear radiation disaster.
This is not a circumstance that threatens the extinction of populations.
This is a virus on the same plane as varied strains of the flu.
During this flu season (October 2019 – February 2020), approximately 30 million people in the United States contracted the flu, with, sadly, approximately 30,000 people dying from it; that is a death rate of approximately 0.1%. Currently, in the U.S. (and worldwide), the number of persons who have contracted the coronavirus is a small fraction of those who have been infected with the flu; obviously, it is understood that with the coronavirus being a communicable disease, the numbers are growing. However, it is not known whether the coronavirus is transmitted at a higher, lower or the same rate as the flu. The death rate for the coronavirus (reported at approximately 2% in the U.S.) is close to the flu’s death rate. Sadly, (1) if one accepts the reported death rate, approximately 20 out every 1,000 infected with the coronavirus die from the illness; (2) approximately one out of every 1,000 infected from this season’s flu die from that virus; and (3) death rates, a little more and a little less, exist for other strains of the flu and similar viruses. Factually, the death rates, through these varied strains of the flu and related viruses such as the coronavirus, are all at the same level (surely not the same exact amount, but at the same level). That said, it is important to note that the death rate for the coronavirus is actually quite a bit lower than the reported 2% in the U.S. – and that is because (a) there are a substantial amount of people who have had the coronavirus (with only minor symptoms) and have not reported it; and (b) there are a substantial amount of people who have had the coronavirus (with no symptoms at all) and have not reported it. This is basic math: when you divide the number of deaths by the true number of cases, the death rate for the coronavirus is either at 0.1% (the same as this season’s flu) or very near it, in either direction. Yet, the deep state, with the coronavirus, has gone far off the deep end, wherein individual state governments are making all kinds of irrational, liberty-restricting decisions including “stay at home” orders and related freedom-elimination mandates such as the complete closures of countless businesses (fortunately, the White House has been reacting with sanity and has not enacted similar federal constraints).
Amazingly, to date, there remain are only five U.S. states who have refused to enact such radical statewide orders. These holdout states are South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Arkansas. A handful of other states, such as South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming, have set forth only limited restrictive measures which, although are not desired in any quantity or quality by many Americans, pale in comparison to the liberty-strangling dictates that have been fired off by a plethora of other states.
President Trump has refused to force any stay at home-type national orders upon Americans, recently saying at a press conference, “We have a thing called the constitution, which I cherish.” He has supported governors’ rights to handle these matters within the confines of their states.
Following the wishes of their constituents – and after thoroughly reviewing volumes of data and listening to the advice of numerous experts – some states’ leaders have determined to be cautious in breaching constitutional law rather than blindly following the path cemented by the hysterical actions of other states’ top officials. And they have explained their thoughtful decisions.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has rejected issuing a statewide shutdown order, in face of hearing claims from certain experts that every state should follow suit. Hutchinson stated, “What’s important is that [a nationwide order] has not been given…The CDC…I watch their guidelines regularly…and they have not indicated that’s an appropriate or necessary step across the country.”
Nebraska Governor Pete Rickets has, likewise, refused to capitulate to the demands of other states’ governors and politicos. He specifically noted the advice of a leading medical expert in his state, Dr. James Lawler, co-director of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security.
Lawlor said, “What I think we should really focus on is improving compliance and adherence.” He explained that people should focus more on following the medical advice to engage in handwashing and social distancing, instead of going down the government-order road, adding, “What we’ve already implemented and we do it well, I think we’ll get much more bang for our buck than we would from going to a much more draconian posture.”
Standing out in the heroics of preserving the founding blocks of liberty defined in the United States’ birthing documents is a state of less than 900,000 residents, but with a people – and a governor – having the backbone of nine million. It’s a midwestern state landlocked by six others: to the south, by Nebraska; to the east, by Iowa and Minnesota; to the north by North Dakota; and to the west by Wyoming and Montana.
This state’s taxes are low, as is its crime rate. But its contribution to the United States is large.
“In feeding the nation, it’s across the board,” Maggie Seidel, Senior Adviser and Policy Director to South Dakota’s governor, told Empire State News. “There’s ranchers on the west side of the state. And on the east side, it’s farmers,” Seidel continued, in explaining how this state’s residents are responsible for the development, cultivation, preparation, and delivery of a significant portion of America’s food supply. “You’ve got everything from pork and cattle, and you name it, on the meat side. Everything under the sun on the farming side too. Corn, soybeans, everything.”
Just as important, South Dakota is, in today’s world, the “everything” in protecting civil liberties, while at the same time protecting the economy – and the health of its residents. The state may now be entitled to the nickname “The Land of the Free,” given its sturdy posture in upholding its residents’ constitutional rights during these very turbulent times. Like all the other remaining holdout states, South Dakota is led by a Republican governor. And on April 3, this state’s GOP helmer, Governor Kristi Noem, very strongly stated:
“By now, many of you have heard me say that I’m relying on the science, facts, and data to drive the state’s response to the virus. Our team’s decision-making is guided by the realities on the ground in South Dakota, rather than trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach…My role with respect to public safety is something I take very seriously. But it’s also important for us to remember that it’s the people themselves who are primarily responsible for their safety. Under our constitutions at the state and federal levels, the people have expansive freedoms. They are free to exercise their rights to work, worship, and play, or to stay at home, or to conduct social distancing….South Dakota is not New York City, and our sense of personal responsibility, our resiliency, and our already sparse population density put us in a great position to manage the spread of the virus without needing to resort to the kinds of draconian shutdowns adopted by big coastal cities or even other countries.”
Via these words, Noem etched the pleas of not just South Dakotans, but Americans from coast to coast, into the frayed political and media fabric that has been callously draped over the constitutional bedrock that this nation was founded upon. And what are those pleas? Simple:
Let us move about freely, without government intrusion. Uncover the constitution and let it reign.
Seidel expounded upon Governor Noem’s thoughts regarding the mandated restrictions levied by many other governors upon their states’ residents. “We don’t call them ‘mandates.’ We call them ‘dictates.’ Because that’s what it is. A mandate is a nicer term for what people are actually asking her to do. And that’s a dictate for the entire state.” Seidel added that “[Governor Noem] said from the beginning that she is not going to allow the mass hysteria at the national level to guide her decision making. She’s going to let the facts on the ground in South Dakota point her in the direction that we need to go.”
The Mayor of Pierre – South Dakota’s capital – Steve Harding, has supported Governor Noem’s direction, saying, “As Mayor of Pierre, at this time, I do not plan to enact an ordinance that is any more restrictive than those guidelines provided by Governor Noem.”
None of these elected officials’ declarations and decisions, however, equate to that they are not taking the coronavirus seriously. To the contrary, all of the liberty- and economy-protecting states’ leaders have delivered clear-cut urgings to practice varied important recommendations defined by medical experts.
In this regard, the Pierre mayor added, “For individual citizens, please continue personal responsibility and avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more people. I also encourage you to continue practicing social distancing and remember to wash hands and to stay home when you’re not feeling well. This is a difficult time for all of us. It’s important that we continue to support each other. That means supporting our local businesses, taking care of our personal health, and checking in on neighbors, friends and family.”
More so, Governor Noem has delivered some executive action, in yesterday changing directives that had previously stated that South Dakota residents “should” follow certain guidance – to that they “shall” do so. While South Dakota still does not have a statewide stay at home order issued (or any other similar intrusive measure), now there are directives such as “Businesses shall modify practices to ensure no more than 10 people are in one space.”
Seidel was quick to clarify the meaning of this provision, however, ensuring that the governor is not closing any businesses and that certainly many more than 10 people are permitted to be on site at business operations, saying that, “There’s a special caveat there. If you go above that [10 people], then they encourage you to stay six feet apart.” Seidel assured that there still are not any “dictates” by the South Dakota governor, but instead there are executive orders that, in practicality, amount to strong urgings. “She’s not going to go out and arrest anybody. We absolutely will not do that in South Dakota.”
Mark Levin’s April 3, 2020 “Daily Recap” page, provided: “Despite the attacks on this program from the left-wing media, the fact remains that some of the modeling used to recommend a national quarantine is misleading and has been called into question by other experts…The economy must be opened before the cure becomes worse than the disease…The Democrats continue pushing for a national stay-at-home order which would override the rights of the states and unnecessarily quarantine areas of the country that are not hot-spots like New York City. Rep. James Clyburn and Gov. Gavin Newsom suggest that the United States consider restructuring how the country does business and governs in light of the coronavirus pandemic.”
There is great hope that, with the likes of resilient, intelligent and thoughtful leaders like President Trump and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, there will never be a union where every state has blanket stay-at-home and other unsavory, unconstitutional orders.
Kenneth Del Vecchio is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/commercial litigation attorney for 25 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases; he is partner in the prestigious law firm, Stern, Kilcullen & Rufolo. Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and eOne Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.” A regular legal and political analyst on the major news networks who has appeared on hundreds of shows, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper.
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