COVID-19 pandemic roundup

  • “However peaceable we might be in our intentions, our assembling is a physical threat. Our judgments about liberty, I think, need to reflect that.” [Eugene Volokh on freedom of assembly during an epidemic] Suits against quarantine seldom prevail [Chris Dolmetsch and Malathi Nayak, Bloomberg/Claims Journal] Quarantine and public health measures set important precedents in overcoming judges’ suspicion of delegations of power [Keith Whittington]
  • If the federal government decided it wanted to block movement between different states to combat virus transmission, where would it get the legal authority, and what means could it lawfully use? [Gene Healy, Cato] The constitutional background on freedom to travel, as well as search and seizure, during an epidemic [Volokh]
  • “The common law also appears not to be a good alternative. One can imagine the litigation nightmare if everyone who got the virus attempted to identify and sue some defendant for damages.” [Tim Brennan, Truth on the Market]
  • Cracking down on putatively deceptive accounting practices, SEC penalized “‘bill-and-hold’ transaction orders in which a product is not immediately delivered to its customer.” And that was terrible news for anyone in the business of trying to build public health stockpiles — of vaccines, equipment, PPE — that might be needed in a contagious-disease emergency [John Berlau, CEI] Better than compulsory purchase orders: “Using Purchase Guarantees and Targeted Deregulation to Boost Production of Essential Medical Equipment” [Caleb Watney and Alec Stapp, Mercatus Center]
  • Flashpoints include drive-in services, curfews, ID and quarantine of churchgoers: “Religious Freedom Clashes With Public Health Enforcers” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
  • “FDA Denaturing Rules Are Toxic for Small Distillers” [Jacob Grier]


  • It’d be reassuring to see some of our more liberty oriented legal minds begin commenting on the continuing validity of the extreme lock down measures.

    Is there a point where the power can’t be justified and could be successfully challenged in court? When is that? Can we be in an emergency forever just because?

    • The problem, ultimately, with the lockdown orders is that they will collapse under the contradictions.

      Many of them are justified by governors saying, “Well, people aren’t being responsible.” Well, gee, so my rights are taken away because others aren’t “being responsible?” That doesn’t work. And what about the abortion stuff–Tom Wolf cannot rationally exempt abortions but not mammograms and a host of other “elective” procedures.

      None of these orders are constitutional, in my opinion.

  • General announcement: This is a moderated comments section. There are many online outlets out there ready and willing to print your claims that COVID-19 is no more dangerous than the seasonal flu, or whatever other howlers or bits of quackery you’re hoping to share. This site, however, is not among them.

    • One comment about coronavirus and the flu—we have vaccines against the flu. So it’s not even an apples to apples comparison.

      I hope that my observation makes the cut. I understand if it does not.

  • I didn’t read Ray’s comments as a statement that the Corona virus is “no more dangerous than the seasonal flu or whatever…” although it can certainly be interpreted that way. I do find his question of some interest: what are the limits to how extreme and how long this quarantine will continue before the courts begin to entertain questions of whether this is “reasonable” — oh dreaded word in law!

    I have advised my nieces that I don’t expect to come out of hibernation until at least the end of May and have advised them to do likewise. Circumstances may lengthen my self-0imprisonment.

    • My general announcement was not directed at Ray, but at the author of a comment that never saw print (and some others I’ve deleted).

      • I support Mr. Olson on this and encourage others to do so.

        This is a great blog. One of the reasons it is so, is that Mr. Olson runs it. It seems that he rarely censors comments and he encourages spirited debate by allowing people to express their views so long as there is respect and people remain on topic.

        If you like a relatively open forum with a fair mediator who works to keep comments civil and on topic, this is the blog for you. If, however, you simply want to troll others or use this to spout off-topic views, maybe you are in the wrong place.