Judge Napolitano: Coronavirus Restrictions Signal the 'Slow Death' of Civil Liberties


Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said Monday that governors imposing excessive restrictions on their constituents during the coronavirus pandemic could be violating the Constitution and denying civil liberties.

Napolitano gave his warning during an appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” after host Tucker Carlson argued that Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is moving “aggressively to seize even more control of her state” because she wants to be vice president.

“She’s calculated there is no penalty for petty authoritarianism,” Carlson said. “In fact, petty authoritarianism might make even mediocre politicians look strong and decisive. That’s her bet. She’s willing to destroy the people in her state in exchange.”

Napolitano agreed with Carlson’s analysis but said that most governors are similarly acting in this way without scientific backing, Fox News reported.

“Your analysis of Governor Whitmer could apply to nearly all the remaining 49 governors who assume that they have the power to crush individual liberties, violate the Constitution and write laws,” Napolitano said.

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“They don’t. Laws in this country are written by legislative branches after public hearings and debates, so there’s a transparency, so we would know why she doesn’t want you to buy garden hoses.”

Napolitano added that there needs to be “a rational basis” for issuing new executive order.

“When the executive branch takes upon itself the role of not just enforcing the law, but of making up new ones, and when in the process it crushes basic fundamental liberties like the right to travel and the right to worship — never mind on Easter Sunday but on any time you want to worship — we are witnessing the slow death, the death in slow motion of civil liberties,” he said.

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The analyst said that governors will continue to use and abuse this newfound power until they are stopped.

“These governors, these petty tyrants, will use this power again and again until some courageous federal court or an outraged public stops them,” Napolitano said.

“Basic human liberties are guaranteed in the Constitution. They can’t even be taken away by the vote of the legislature, much less the command of a governor or a mayor.”

He said that even though governors and mayors are trying to enforce their executive orders by having state and city police issue citations for things such as gathering in a church parking lot, the orders are really just guidelines.

“These executive orders look like orders and sound like orders. They are just guidelines,” Napolitano said.

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“There cannot be a criminal sanction for the failure to comply with them because they are at their root just the whim of those in power intended to enhance their power, but they are not valid expressions of constitutional documents.”

In a Fox News Op-Ed published last month,  Napolitano argued that governors have been using people’s fear to feed on their civil liberties.

“If liberty can be taken away in times of crisis, then is it really liberty; or is it just a license, via a temporary government permission slip, subject to the whims of politicians in power?” he asked.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith