A Massachusetts case on its way to the SCOTUS – and hoping to be the roughly 1% of cases granted a review – will have an immense impact on private property rights.
At issue in Desrosiers v. Baker is the legality of several COVID-19 lockdown orders issued throughout 2020 by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. The lockdown orders, which were some of the most draconian in the nation, generally banned all private assemblies that did not have a political or religious purpose after 9:30 p.m., no matter the size or location.
The orders imposed significantly stricter restrictions on assembly in “private residences” than on assembly in public settings. The orders encouraged “the public’s unselfish compliance,” and were enforceable variously by misdemeanor criminal penalties, civil fines, and court injunction. These penalties also applied to hosts who failed to cooperate with government requests for “lists of attendees at social gatherings.”
The Massachusetts lockdown orders even included a quasi-adultery ban, in effect at all hours, on assembly involving close physical contact by the un-cohabiting, instead of by the unmarried. Under the orders, “participants who [were] not members of the same household” had to keep six feet of distance from each other at all times. The orders warned that a “gathering shall violate this provision where, no matter the number of participants present, conditions or activities at the gathering are such that it is not reasonably possible for all participants to maintain this degree of separation.”
I’m not sure what I’m more worried about – a Roberts-led majority deciding there’s a prudential reason to allow government extraordinary powers in a state of emergency, or the near-violent reaction of Big Karen to having their power, and their reason for existence, struck down.
OK, definitely more worried about “a”.
I accept “B” as a foregone conclusion.