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Wednesday, June 9, 2021 : By John Wesley Reid
COVID restrictions across the United States reflect dictatorship and tyranny, as characterized by Mike Farris, president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom.
“Local and state governments — governors in particular — really have gotten use to what amounts to dictatorial power. Because the legislatures didn’t pass the laws doing this, [governors] are enacting their own laws, and when a governor enacts a law themselves, our Founders would call that tyranny.”
Farris sat down with the Standing for Freedom Center to discuss religious liberty, free speech, and the Equality Act. Farris, who has successfully defended individual liberty at the United States Supreme Court, also said that while the Court mostly ruled in favor of religious liberty against COVID restrictions, many governors created a precedent of power that will not soon fade:
“Government had a taste of power that I don’t think they’re going to get out of their mouth easily. And I think this is going to be an ongoing problem and we’re going to have to continue to fight for religious liberty day in and day out.”
In order to uphold a law that in some fashion violates individual rights, the Supreme Court utilizes the “Compelling State Interest Test,” which demands that if a law is going to encroach on individual liberty, such a law must have a compelling state interest and must be the least restrictive means of obtaining such interest. In short, the test is meant to protect individual freedom as much as possible.
Farris noted that draconian COVID restrictions would fail the Compelling State Interest Test, since there is no proof that the restrictions work, and the non-FDA-approved vaccines have also not proven to be a valid remedy.
“The government simply can’t sustain that because all the standards on the healthcare principles that they’re acting on in the COVID context are unproven. They have theses, they have preliminary results, but they do not have double-blind studies. The vaccine has not been fully FDA-approved, for example, as safe and effective. So without that scientific finality, you can’t prove that their things even work and if a government program doesn’t even work, you can’t impose it on anybody.
So there’s no proof that these things work. In fact, the anecdotal evidence would say to the contrary: The states that masked up and were the most draconian had the greatest COVID results for a long, long time…. But the big point is the government should have to prove that it works and prove that there’s no other alternative.”
Farris also noted the positive impact that Justice Amy Coney Barrett has brought to the Court, solidifying a strong conservative influence that aided the constitutionally backed decisions overturning COVID restrictions. Farris further described the Court’s decisions on COVID restrictions as saying, “If any entity gets treated better than churches, you’ve got a constitutional problem.”
Restrictions seen in 2020, and still seen in 2021, have revealed a not-so-subtle agenda of power — a thirst and self-quenching means of apprehending inalienable rights. To make it palatable, elected officials attempted and oftentimes succeeded in coercing the citizenry to believe that these unprecedented limitations were all in the name of public health. But if indeed the limitations were for public health, then how could one explain the disproportionate restrictions that Nevada and other states applied towards churches? When a church that can house 1,000 is only allowed to hold 50, but a casino that holds 1,000 can hold 500, it simply cannot be ignored that these governors were looking to undermine religious liberty.
Unless evidence proves that houses of worship enable COVID to spread faster and more lethally, these draconian and disproportionate policies were a direct assault on Americans’ religious liberty.
Alliance Defending Freedom has been securing victories for religious liberty at the Supreme Court for many years. Among its many victories are Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.