ANNAPOLIS, November 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is under fire for his latest COVID-19 action, the announcement of “compliance units” to enforce his restrictions on retail and restaurants.
Last week, Hogan imposed 50% capacity limits on religious, retail, and dining establishments, a 10 PM curfew on the sale of alcohol, and other restrictions in the name of combatting COVID-19. On Monday, he announced that “High Visibility Compliance Units” were being dispatched across the state ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, to focus on bars, restaurants, and other “venues that host gatherings, including nightclubs and banquet halls.”
“I know that there is growing frustration that we are all still fighting this virus,” Hogan said. “Many people are struggling emotionally and financially, and this is causing a great deal of stress for nearly everyone — but following the public health directives is the only way we will be able to stop this virus, keep Maryland open for business, and keep hospitals from overflowing.”
The governor’s office is also encouraging Marylanders to report one another by phone for “unsafe facilities and activities or public health order violations.”
During public remarks on the measures, Hogan also declared “there’s no constitutional right to walk around without a mask,” CBS Baltimore reports. “It’s sort of like saying I have a constitutional right to drive drunk. I have a constitutional right to not wear a seat belt, or to yell fire in a crowded movie theater, or to not follow the speed limit.” Some took issue with Hogan’s analogy:
Comparing walking around maskless to driving drunk is absolute madness. It's completely hysterical and irrational, and if this is the attitude then we will be in masks forever. https://t.co/t92zF0raHd
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) November 24, 2020
There remains significant scientific disagreement over the effectiveness of masks against COVID-19, and while the federal and state constitutions do not directly address mask mandates, it is also a tenet of constitutional interpretation that, as the Ninth Amendment says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Maryland Republican Del. Dan Cox, who has proposed legislation limiting the governor’s authority and unsuccessfully taken Hogan to court over his emergency actions, said Tuesday he will be filing articles of impeachment against Hogan for “sending troopers to arrest Thanksgiving Turkey feasters.”
The American Civil Rights Union also noted Monday the hypocrisy of state health officials issuing a citation to Community United Methodist Church shortly after Hogan ordered early release for certain nonviolent criminals due to COVID-19.
“I was in my office alone, without a mask on, and heard someone at the locked door of the church,” Rev. Dennis Jackman MD says. “I was not expecting anyone, so I went to see who was trying to get in the church. Immediately after answering the door, I went to my desk and put on my mask, but the health official seemed intent on finding something worthy of a citation.”
“The entire country is watching this juxtaposition of principles and priorities,” warned American Constitutional Rights Union President Lori Roman. “A virus cannot erase our freedoms.”