Speaking with host Mike Huckabee on Fox News‘ Hannity on Friday night, former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) suggested that state and local governments need to back off when it comes to infringing on the rights of Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“There has to be a rationality,” Gowdy said Friday, according to Fox. “Any time government asks the citizenry to do something, there has to be a rational basis for it.”
“Where does it stop?”
Gowdy’s comments come as calls continue to mount for an end to “stay-at-home” orders enacted across the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. By Sunday, the disease had infected more than 960,000 and killed nearly 55,000 in the U.S. alone, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, but many have pointed out that those figures are far lower than experts originally suggested.
Of course, social distancing efforts may be contributing to those low numbers — but according to Gowdy, government restrictions in that regard can only go so far.
“The greater the freedom you infringe, the more compelling the reason has to be,” Gowdy told Fox on Friday, according to the Washington Examiner. He went on:
If I’m going to imprison you or fine you for not wearing a mask, why can’t I hold you down and vaccinate you against the flu this fall? I mean, you don’t want the flu and COVID-19, so can I involuntarily vaccinate you? Can I show up at your house and make sure you’re doing your burpees and your planks and your jumping jacks because obesity and COVID-19 don’t go well together? Where does it stop?
Indeed, while the federal government has pushed voluntary guidelines in hopes of curbing the spread of the disease, some states are taking those a step further. In Michigan, for instance, Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has prohibited the sale of certain items deemed “non-essential,” including furniture and gardening equipment, according to MLive.com, and has banned travel “between residences,” The Hill reported earlier this month.
“If I’m going to tell you, governor, that you can’t go visit your mom, that’s a fundamental right that you have, so the reason I offer to keep you from doing that has to be incredibly compelling. It has to be more than just the governor of Michigan thinks it’s a good idea,” Gowdy opined Friday, according to the Examiner.
“There has to be a rational basis”
Gowdy went on to praise Attorney General Bill Barr for signaling that he will use federal resources to push back against state and local government overreach.
“If I tell you that you have to wear something in public, there has to be a rational basis for that,” Gowdy said, according to the Examiner. “Barr is smart enough to know that, and he’ll put the power of the federal government and grants for those states and municipalities who don’t want to go along, with the power of the purse and the power to go to court.
“I get encouraging people not to go see those that are vulnerable,” Gowdy added. “But asking me not to go see my mom is very different from telling me that I’m forbidden on penalty of law from going to see my mom.”
Take a look at video of the exchange, courtesy of Fox News: