Scott Hardie | May 14, 2020
I keep hearing complaints in the public sphere that people's constitutional rights are being infringed by these stay-at-home orders.

And I wonder, which rights specifically?

I may have forgotten something else that's important, but the only part of the U.S. constitution that seems to me to be relevant to this is the first amendment, which guarantees that among other things, the right of the people to peaceably assemble shall not be infringed. But we infringe upon that right in all kinds of specific contexts. Besides restricted areas like military bases and high-level government offices, you cannot peaceably assemble in dangerous areas, like on top of burning buildings or inside derelict condemned structures or on top of bridges being demolished. Right now, the entire public sphere is one big dangerous area. You can still peaceably assemble online, or by phone, or even in public using partitions and social distancing. I don't see how being allowed to stand closer together than 6 feet is guaranteed by the amendment.

I asked a friend, who wrote it off as people not knowing what their actual constitutional rights are, like the Facebook users who cite the first amendment when their post is taken down, as if that amendment applies to a private business entity. But I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I want to understand better what the outrage is. So I'm really asking: Is there a real constitutional violation in the stay-at-home orders issued by states and municipalities?

Samir Mehta | May 14, 2020
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Samir Mehta | May 15, 2020
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