Last night, I read a story on Local.de, a site with news from Germany. The headline was, “Germany bans gatherings of more than two to control coronavirus spread.”
Today, the headline story on the site was ‘You must carry ID’: Berlin orders strict coronavirus restrictions on daily life.
You can see how fears might be raised, particularly since this is Germany, where demands for carrying ID and papers were a prelude to being able to haul people off to concentration camps. And no, I am not saying that is the German government’s intention. Not at all. But those of us who grew up learning about the horrors of WWII and concentration camps are going to be concerned — or resistant — to such measures, however justified they may seem. And of course, Germany is not the only country limiting citizen’s freedom of movement or tracking people.
The restrictions would be cause for concern under any circumstances, but when you combine it with hate speech blaming Chinese people or Jews for the pandemic, it becomes alarming.
The ACLU has been issuing emails and posts about the risks to civil liberties during this pandemic and seeking to protect rights.
And while I might have expected the first court challenge on restrictions to reach the upper levels of state courts might be a case involving someone refusing to stay at home when they are not sick or symptomatic or someone trying to keep their business open when ordered to shutter, the first case that I’ve actually noticed in the media is a state supreme court case covered on the Volokh Conspiracy: Divided PA Supreme Court: Governor can shut down firearms dealers during Coronavirus emergency
Somehow it figures that the gun rights folks would get their case heard in a hurry while other issues may proceed more slowly.
But do keep watching what happens in tests of government’s ability to restrict our activities during this pandemic. Will the courts defer to the government in all cases, or if not, where will they draw the line?