Exclusive – Rep. Mike Garcia: Time to Re-Embrace the Bill of Rights After the Pandemic’s Encroachment on Our Liberties

This undated photo provided by the Mike Garcia for Congress campaign shows candidate Mike
Cynthia Smalley/Mike Garcia for Congress via AP

Our nascent nation is underpinned by a dynamically unstable form of government, that being a federal republic. As it moves through time, there is a natural tendency for instability. It is only because of a strict adherence to the elegant construct of the Constitution and a recognition of the absolute and inalienable rights within the Constitution that we retain our balance and stability.

Our country consciously trades stability for liberties, and this should be encouraged under the right stewardship and under the auspices of law and order. This is what makes us exceptional.

Without the exertions of well-meaning Americans and leaders who understand our past and the Constitution, our country may in fact cease to exist as we know it. Just as a modern jet fighter would fall out of the sky without fly-by-wire technology, we as a nation would likewise crash and burn without zealous adherence to the Constitution.

During challenging times or events, it may be tempting to some to truncate the backbone of our great nation – the Bill of Rights – to make exceptions to the rules; to try to modify the construct or intent of the Constitution to better fit modern times; to cannibalize parts or the entirety of certain rights in a futile attempt to eradicate all illness, social ills, or crimes from our society; or worse yet, to do so to appease a political faction.

During these last 12 months under the stress and pressure of COVID, we have witnessed bona fide encroachments upon the Bill of Rights.

We as a society need a stronger loyalty to the Constitution and the liberties it provides and less obedience to the woke left and weak government authorities who are enacting arbitrary measures to expand their control.

Some see these encroachments as necessary evils to navigate this modern pandemic. I do not, and we cannot, tolerate language from a sitting president who claimed just last week that “no Amendment in the Constitution is absolute.” President Biden is wrong. The Amendments may not be unlimited, but they are absolute.

Like a student who took an entire semester off, it’s the report card that stings and tells the true story.

First Amendment

The assault on our First Amendment rights has grown exponentially during the pandemic.

Let’s start with the free exercise of religion. Churches and in-home religious studies were forced to shut down indoor and outdoor services and for longer than most secular businesses.  Thankfully, the Supreme Court recognized this infringement and last week ruled that restrictions placed on services in California are, in fact, unconstitutional.

Cancel culture and censorship are enabled and supported by Big Tech, progressive government, and a constant attack on freedom of speech. If you say something the far left disagrees with, you risk being publicly attacked or “cancelled.”

Clouding our freedom of the press, the majority of mainstream media is owned by the political extremes. These outlets are focused more on catering to a narrative to their like-minded customer base instead of objectively reporting the news. Those who don’t “play along” are punished. (For example, James Bennet of the New York Times was forced to resign for publishing Sen Tom Cotton’s op-ed in July 2020.)

In too many cases around the nation, local governments have failed to protect our right to peaceably assemble, while ignoring laws to mitigate the riots and violence in cities such as Portland and Seattle. Small businesses are punished for protesting in an effort to stay open while governments are complicit in perpetuating the violent demonstrations and looting against businesses.

Second Amendment

President Biden’s recent executive order and Speaker Pelosi’s gun control bills, including H.R.8, do nothing to help those with mental health issues, yet further erode a law-abiding individual’s right to own a firearm guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

Third Amendment

The Third Amendment’s guarantee against quartering troops seems far-fetched to most of us, but the recent quartering of National Guard troops in the U.S. Capitol (the “People’s House”) does raise valid questions. Critics are quick to dismiss this as hyperbole, but the basic facts are that the government ordered the troops in, didn’t provide them shelter and required them to literally sleep in the halls of Congress.

Fourth and Fifth Amendments

The Fourth and Fifth Amendments are not immune from encroachment. Thousands of businesses nationwide have been subjected to arbitrary and capricious regulations and enforcement searches that often lead to violations of guidelines that change on a daily basis and lead to their shutdown. In my district, one health inspector was seen dancing on the premises while phoning in a violation that shut a business down.

Sixth Amendment

COVID-forced shutdowns of our judicial system created a further backlog of cases, prevented public jury trials and continues to impede citizens’ rights that those trials be speedy as guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment.

Eighth Amendment

The Eighth Amendment’s protection against excessive fines has also been thrown out of the window. In Burbank, California, during COVID shutdowns, a local restaurant was fined over $50,000 and the manager arrested three times while the city placed sandbags and built a chain link fence barrier around the restaurant, deeming the restaurant a public nuisance.

Government leaders at all levels must admit these encroachments and failures. We must reverse this trend to ensure the longevity of our nation. The failures are self-evident and in plain sight.

Rep. Mike Garcia represents California’s 25th congressional district.


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