Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recently issued a strong statement criticizing the use of emergency powers during the Covid-19 pandemic, arguing that such measures intrude upon civil liberties.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch called emergency measures taken during the COVID-19 crisis that killed more than 1 million Americans perhaps “the greatest intrusions on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country.” https://t.co/RxHm7vXvCI
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 19, 2023
Gorsuch expressed deep concerns over the government’s extensive exercise of power, contending that it has placed significant financial burdens on American citizens, making it increasingly difficult for them to provide for their families or afford basic necessities like food and fuel.
The Judge also voiced his opposition to lockdown orders, the federal eviction ban, and vaccine mandates. “An important lesson to learn from this is that fear and the desire for safety wield significant influence. They can generate a clamor for action—any action—as long as it addresses a perceived threat,” read Gorsuch’s statement.
“Since March 2020, we have possibly witnessed the most substantial encroachments upon civil liberties during peacetime in the history of our nation. Emergency decrees have been issued by executive officials on an unprecedented scale across the country.”
He proceeded to provide examples of how the federal government has infringed upon the rights of American citizens. Gorsuch highlighted the forced closures of businesses, schools, and churches, while favoring the operation of casinos and other privileged establishments. Threats were made against violators through civil penalties and criminal sanctions.
Furthermore, he drew attention to the government’s intrusion into the lives of law-abiding citizens by surveilling church parking lots, recording license plates, and warning individuals attending outdoor events that adhered to social-distancing rules.
Gorsuch raised the question of whether state legislatures should reassess the proper limits of emergency executive powers at the state level. He expressed the hope that, at a minimum, the Judiciary would prevent litigants from manipulating the court’s schedule to prolong a decree intended for one emergency to address another.
Justice Gorsuch’s statement adds to the ongoing national conversation surrounding emergency response powers and personal freedom. It underscores the need for a careful evaluation of the balance between public health measures and the preservation of individual rights, particularly during times of crisis.
As the Supreme Court continues to shape the legal landscape, the impact of Gorsuch’s views and opinions will undoubtedly influence the court’s future decisions on matters related to emergency powers and civil liberties.