…over that mask mandate and bar closure Attorney General Jeff Landry repeatedly told the Governor was unconstitutional. We’ll see how the lawsuit goes.
There’s a case in federal law which proponents of the mandate say is controlling. That case is Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which held that states had the constitutional power to compel vaccinations. From the decision…
“…in every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand…[r]eal liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”
So the mask is a stand-in for vaccinations; at least, so goes the argument.
But the bar owners are going to take a poke at something a little different, obviously, because Edwards is putting them out of business with his edict. It’s a bit of a stretch to say Jacobson v. Massachusetts gives a governor the right to close down a bar.
Eleven Louisiana bar owners filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Gov. John Bel Edwards, arguing his coronavirus rules limiting bars to takeout and delivery unlawfully target one business sector and impose overly harsh restrictions.
The lawsuit names the Democratic governor and Fire Marshal Butch Browning, the chief enforcement officer of the virus regulations for Edwards, as defendants. It was filed in Lafayette federal court by bars located across Acadiana, including in New Iberia, Morgan City, Youngsville and Lafayette.
The bars argue Edwards cannot show a “real or substantial relation” between the closure of bars to onsite drinking and the public health crisis. They say only a small number of known COVID-19 cases have been traced to bars by the state, and they say none of those cases were tracked to their businesses.
Lawyer Jimmy Faircloth, representing the bar owners, said Edwards’ coronavirus restrictions “may have warranted the benefit of the doubt” in the early days of the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus. But he said more scientific data is available, and he argues that data undermines Edwards’ decision.
“Further, the public has become well versed in the art of social distancing, and businesses have learned to alter their environments to accommodate this practice. Simply put, although perhaps justified months ago, it is no longer sufficient to rely on hysteria, hearsay or biased commentary as a basis to impose overly-broad, draconian restrictions on fundamental rights,” wrote Faircloth, a one-time executive counsel to former Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The Louisiana Department of Health says it has traced 464 confirmed coronavirus infections to 41 bars, among the largest number of cases tracked to a specific type of business.
Edwards banned onsite consumption at bars earlier this month after previously allowing bars to reopen with restaurants and other businesses. But the governor and his health advisers said bars have shown to be specifically problematic because people tend to huddle closely together inside without masks while drinking and lapse in their virus precautions the more alcohol they consume.
Edwards’ media flack Christina Stephens said that what he did was “legal” and “necessary,” and that the state’s increasing case counts justify putting these people out of business.
Except yesterday Edwards was busy spreading the news that Louisiana has the worst incidence of COVID-19 infection in the nation despite his mask mandates and bar closures, so maybe the argument that what he’s done was necessary or even effective isn’t all that strong.
Meanwhile, the governor’s approval rating with respect to the virus response might not be as high as the state’s media and others might have you believe. It’s tanked from 67 percent in April and 64 percent in June to 50 percent now, as the people have tired of his shutdowns and scolding. Perhaps as this lawsuit, and the other one filed in state court in Baton Rouge, moves along, the public will grow even wearier.
Of course, all of this can begin to go away if 10 or so more members of the Louisiana House of Representatives will sign the petition taking away Edwards’ emergency declaration. That effort seems to have stalled, though we’re not really sure why.