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No Freedom From Covid Regulation

July 6, 2020

Sometimes an appellate ruling is both reasonable and very silly at the same time. We have a fine example of this from a New York federal judge’s ruling in one of the many unsuccessful lawsuits challenging Covid-19 business regulation orders.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

Sometimes an appellate ruling is both reasonable and very silly at the same time. We have a fine example of this from a New York federal judge’s ruling in one of the many unsuccessful lawsuits challenging Covid-19 business regulation orders.

The orders, wrote the judge, don’t deny the business owner plaintiff “all economically beneficial use of his property.” He could offer food and drinks for takeout or delivery. If he lost all his income, it was because of a “voluntary choice not to pursue alternative business models.”

Perfectly reasonable.

Until you realize that the plaintiff business is a strip club.

Imagine the alternative business models. Imagine ordering food and drinks from the local strip club.

Some of you might consider ordering a business model (aka a stripper) to go, but the food and drink orders are unlikely (unless delivered by certain club employees).

Now imagine going to court claiming a right to continue stripping during a pandemic. Normal diseases aren’t enough for some people.

After all, at least according to some people, there are worse things than diseases — for example, preventing them.

This is the rather startling — even somewhat frightening — statement from the introduction to a lawsuit filed last week in Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, Florida:

“This action stems from the Defendant Palm Beach County’s infringement upon well-settled constitutionally protected freedoms of over a million Palm Beach County residents and visitors. … Defendant has recklessly required countless American citizens and Florida residents, including the Plaintiffs, to submit to dangerous medical treatments with well-known risks and potential for serious injuries and death, including being forced to wear harmful medical devices like masks.”

It’s amazing how many terrible things governments do to us.

A few of you may be thinking that some self-represented crackpot filed this 37-page complaint. If you thought that, slap yourself on the wrist for being an elitist snob. There are four lawyers listed on this document plus something called the Florida Civil Rights Coalition. I don’t know anything about this organization but I’m guessing from its name that it campaigns to defund the police and free them from their face shields and body armor.

Before we consider this suit further, I want those of you who are lawyers to consider what you would do if a client walked into your office wanting to sue the government for protecting people. You can make your own decision on this. My instinct would be hysterical laughter (and maybe a pepper spray demonstration to demonstrate the need for masks).

The Palm Beach lawsuit goes on at some length quoting studies that it says show that N-95 masks are not more effective than surgical masks and may even be dangerous if you wear them too long and don’t get enough oxygen. (Note to plaintiffs: If you’re having trouble breathing, try getting away from people and then taking off the mask. If you’re feeling faint, don’t keep operating on patients.)

There’s also a lot of stuff about freedom of speech, due process, and the right to refuse medical treatment. No mention of the right to infect other people but that must be in the Constitution — at least the Florida one — somewhere.

The masks, according to the suit, even harm children trying to “learn to communicate properly as living, breathing human beings have been for countless generations” because they can’t see mouths moving and facial expressions. Apparently, there are a lot of families in Palm Beach who don’t realize they can take the masks off at home.

There’s also an equal protection argument: Grocery stores and drugstores are burdened with mask and social distancing rules but other places are not. “Walmart remains open, yet defendant Palm Beach County is announcing plans to close the beach to Americans celebrating Independence Day.”

What better time and place for a revolution than the Fourth of July on the beach? You can get a tan and fight for your rights.

And the worst part of all this? “Defendant’s unconstitutional Mask Mandate discriminates against thousands of facial expressions …”

Now you know why we need emojis.

Perry Mason, episode 2.  Still terrible.

The scrawny cows and the amorous next-door pilot have disappeared after seeming to have nothing to do with the plot. Instead, we get random flashbacks to Perry shooting people during a war. It seems to have nothing to do with the plot.

Paul Drake, Perry’s detective in the original series, appears as a uniformed policeman with a pregnant wife. Not surprisingly, Paul is much smarter than his bosses.

Perry, miraculously, while looking around a room, decides to check out the underbelly of a toy (or maybe taxidermied) alligator-sort of thing to find a stash of incriminating love letters. Where else would you store your love letters?

Perry’s lawyer boss hangs out in some sort of club with the District Attorney. The D.A. seems to be immensely enjoying his job. There is much drinking.

An arrest is made in the middle of a crowd at a funeral for no readily apparent reason.

The only good part is that Tatiana Maslani finally appears. Unfortunately, she plays only one role when she could easily have taken on six parts. This is a waste of talent. The series producers could have saved a lot of money.

And, once again, no one confesses at the end of the episode.

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