"REPUBLICAN" GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN: YOU HAVE NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO NOT WEAR A MASK!
Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
In an amazing display of stupidity and ignorance, the Republican Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan declared, "There's no constitutional right to walk around without a mask. Wear the mask." The comment is so preposterous that the link to the CBS Baltimore report quoting him is included in case you, like me, found it unbelievable. The comment came during a press conference Monday where the Governor found himself explaining the state's mask mandate. He likened the ability of going without a mask to driving while intoxicated. "It's sort of like saying I have a constitutional right to drive drunk. I have a constitutional right to not wear a seat belt, or to yell fire in a crowded movie theater, or not to follow the speed limit."
Governor Hogan's comments are so incredibly ignorant that I cannot believe we are even having a discussion about this. But we live in a time when the whole world seems to be upside down and the values we hold dear are being discarded. So, forgive me while I go through the exercise.
First, one does not have a right to drive drunk, nor to speed, nor does one have the right to not wear a seatbelt while driving because there is no inalienable right to drive a car on a public road. The ability to negotiate a vehicle through America's streets is a privilege granted by the state to individuals, usually over aged 16, with restricted privileges for those who are aged fifteen who are learning to drive. The driving privilege may be rescinded by the state for a variety of reasons so long as the state observes the licensees' due process rights when doing so.
The prohibition against yelling, "Fire" in a movie theater comes closer to the issue of mask mandates. Your right to yell, "Fire" wherever you want is conferred upon you by natural law. It is part of your free speech rights. However, government may minimally restrict those rights when consented to by the people. Equally as important, when the government infringes on those rights, it must do so minimally and demonstrate a compelling reason to do so.
In the "Fire" example, it is true that We the People have consented to certain time, manner, and place restrictions for non-political speech, which haphazardly yelling "Fire" certainly is. The People have consented to these minimal intrusions upon the right to this particular non-political speech because of safety issues the free exercise thereof would incur.
The concept of inalienable right, of course, goes back to the basic precept upon which our nation was established, namely our understanding of natural law. This amazingly progressive understanding of human existence maintains that man was created in a certain natural state by the Creator while simultaneously endowing him with certain natural rights. No one may intrude upon those natural rights except through the consent of the individual. Inherent to this elemental understanding of natural law is the question of communal living. Man is, by his nature, a social being who derives his existence from interacting with others. He must therefore create a society, and in order to allow for the peaceful coexistence between men, it becomes necessary to place restrictions on some of these rights when their unfettered exercise infringe on the rights of another. This is the foundational precept for the creation of government, and the United States in particular was conceived under the belief that men could peacefully come together without a king and determine how those rights would be applied and restricted.
Enter the mask mandate. What can be more akin to a natural state than for an individual to "walk around without a mask" as God actually created him? I dare say very few more fundamental precepts exist than the acceptance of the reality that man was created without a mask. Yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and it may be necessary for one's inherent right to not wear a mask be restricted, but here's where the restrictions upon government come into platy. If government is to place a restriction upon an inherent right for the public good then it must do so through the consent of the governed, and increasingly the governed are not consenting to mask mandates. It must also do so for a compelling reason. In this case, the government claims the compelling reason is the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, except the reason is much less compelling now than it was in March, and the effectiveness of such mandates are increasingly coming into question. Finally, the government's action must be minimally intrusive. Well, at this point we are at month eight of this nonsense, and the intrusion this and similar mandates are having on Marylanders is anything but minimal.
Governor Hogan's fundamental lack of understanding to the limitations in his power and the natural relationship between man and government should also remind him of another right that Marylanders have: impeachment. The Maryland Constitution reserves the right of impeachment to the state legislature "in all cases," and although not specifically mentioned, usually the remedy is reserved for acts of official misconduct, incompetence, or neglect of duty. In this case, rarer cases of sheer incompetence have been encountered.
Thus, it is high time the Maryland legislature entertains removing this grossly incompetent governor for the protection of Marylanders' rights and to prevent further utterances of inanely stupid comments by government officials.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons. He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopedic surgeon living in Florida. He is a lawyer, author, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives. He is available for speaking engagements at email@example.com