SCOTUS Wrongly Affirms Governor Baker’s COVID Authority [OPINION]
The United States Supreme Court has decided not to get involved in a challenge to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's executive orders issued during the COVID-19 panic. In refusing to hear an appeal, the justices have in effect affirmed Baker's authority to invoke the state's Civil Defense Act last year, which led to a host of executive orders restricting the rights and freedoms of Massachusetts citizens.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in December that Baker was justified in using the Civil Defense Act to declare a state of emergency due to the worldwide COVID pandemic. A group of religious and business leaders and the headmaster of a private school went to court to challenge Baker's actions. They lost at the lower court level, and the state's highest court upheld that decision. By refusing to hear an appeal, the Supreme Court upholds the SJC's findings.
By declaring a state of emergency, Baker was able to close schools, businesses, and churches, order restrictions on gatherings, and impose a mask mandate. There are those, myself included, who believe Baker was able to establish a sort of dictatorship in Massachusetts by making decisions that should have required legislative approval. Following Baker's lead, mini-dictators such as New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell threatened defiant church leaders with fines and closed park playgrounds.
The Massachusetts Legislature should have participated in many of the decisions unilaterally made by Charlie Baker last year. Massachusetts is not a monarchy. We have a legislative as well as an executive branch of government here. It seems as though the legislative branch failed to do its job and allowed the executive branch to run amuck. Why the Supreme Court doesn't see it that way is beyond me.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.