Letter: Correcting the record on what Consitution does, doesn’t allow


I am responding tot he letter to the editor by Joseph Moreland, published in the May 9 Whidbey News-Times.

He makes the following points:

• That we have had ‘problems with viruses in the past. Swine flu, Ebola and the regular flu. None of them resulted in in the disregard of the United States Constitution as this has;

• We have a governor who has “violated Washington state law, as well as the U.S. Constitution. Washington law gives the governor 30 days for emergency powers. After that he has to get approval from the legislature …”

• The Bill of Rights give U.S. citizens rights no governor ‘dictator’ can take away. Included in these is the right to assemble and exercise your religious freedom.

As to the first point, it surprises me that anyone would attempt to equate the scale and risks posed by the swine flu, Ebola and the regular flu outbreaks to COVID-19. According to the CDC, the 2009 outbreak of swine flu resulted in roughly 10,000 deaths and infected roughly 50,000 people in the U.S. There have been only 11 Ebola cases in the U.S. reported and confirmed.

CDC estimates the regular flu death rate, from October 2019 to present, is between 24,000 and 62,000, but flu is not a reportable disease. These are estimates.

Presently, there are more than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and the death rate stands at more than 77,000.

A much better comparison would be the 1918 flu pandemic, which was the last event remotely on the same scale as the present pandemic.

But, of course, during that pandemic there were stay-at-home orders throughout the U.S., so this would not support the narrative Mr. Moreland is trying to set.

As to his second point, the govern’s emergency powers are outlined in RCWs 43.06.220(1) and 43.06.220(2). Sections of those laws allow the governor to “prohibit” certain actions and behaviors, suspend certain laws and statutory obligations.

I fail to see what basis Mr. Moreland has for stating the governor has “violated state law.

As to his third point, Moreland apparently fails to appreciate the fact no right under the Constitution is absolute.

Your right to free speech does not allow you to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, libel or slander another person, commit fraud or plagiarize another persons’ works.

Your right to freely practice your chosen religion does not allow you to refuse medical treatment that endangers your children, make animal sacrifices or have multiple spouses.

Your right to bear arms does not allow you to have fully automatic weapons, rocket launchers or sawed off shotguns.

Your personal liberty can be taken away if you commit a crime.

The freedom to assemble is limited by numerous fire, health and safety laws.

Don’t get me wrong, how we react tot his pandemic must involve looking at both health risks posed by the coronavirus and the risks from shutting down the economy.

Accusing the governor of acting illegally, falsely equating the coronavirus threat to the regular flu, and hiding behind a nonexistent absolute Constitutional right to do as you please, regardless of the risk to others is not adding anything constructive to the debate.

Steve Bezaire