by Nicholas Dwork
This week, my pregnant wife and I visited Carmel beach to enjoy the sand and sunshine. During our time there, we stayed far more than six feet away from anyone else. Shortly after our arrival, a police officer approached us and commanded us to move. We were permitted on the beach but only as long as we were moving; we were not allowed to sit. This, of course, is exactly what Newsom decreed.
Newsom has banned church gatherings in California. In Joaquin Valley, police posted a notice on a church stating that its use was nonessential. Amazingly, in a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld this ban as constitutional. How did they get around the freedoms of religion and assembly in the Bill of Rights? In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that, as long as the same restrictions are imposed on similar non-secular institutions, the decree is constitutional. Note that there is no language of similarity in the first amendment; this artificial addition is a rationale made by the Supreme Court to justify totalitarian action. If we take this argument to its extreme, as long as the government imposes tyranny equally, the actions are constitutional. That simple thought experiment shows the absurdity of this horrendous opinion. As the U.S. Department of Justice has written in support of lifting church restrictions, “There is no pandemic clause in the constitution that allows our rights to disappear.”
Nevertheless, here we are. The Supreme Court has ruled, and gatherings of all kinds, including churches previously protected by the Bill of Rights, will be prohibited. At least, that’s where we were until the constituents most likely to vote for Newsom began protesting.
On 5/25/2020, police officers killed George Floyd by pressing a knee on his neck for approximately nine minutes, three minutes of which was done after Floyd became unresponsive. The response to this atrocious act has been enormous, spanning the entire country.
On 5/29/2020, Newsom spoke about what this killing meant to him. He spoke of “reflection” and “principles” and “empathy.” He DID NOT discuss the health consequences of protesting, the lack of social distancing by the protestors, the dangers of shutting down a freeway (as protestors did), nor the innocent victim store owners who have had their livelihoods taken away from the mob.
I am very much in favor of a person’s right to protest peacefully, also enshrined in the Bill of Rights. I detest the arbitrariness of how our rights, in California, are subject to the whims of our unprincipled governor. In California, one can protest, riot, and loot and be forgiven as part of a hurting sensitive public. However, if you go to work, worship in church, or sit on a beach, you are classified as a criminal and fined. Such is the stupidity of the state that we live in, currently ruled by decree of the power-hungry Governor Newsom.
Nicholas Dwork was born and raised in Canyon Country. He received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with work specialized in medical technologies from Stanford University in 2019.