by Donna Martinez
Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Whenever someone asks me if I follow the work of any liberals, I respond with two words: Jonathan Turley. Professor Turley is a self-described liberal and constitutional law expert who teaches at George Washington University. You’ve probably seen him on cable networks, but I hope you’re reading him on his renowned blog, which is a treasure trove of reasoned analysis of legal cases and constitutional issues. He is a staunch defender of free speech and adherence to the Constitution — which is why I respect him.
I’ve been following the Biden Administration’s eviction moratorium very closely since I own rental property. Thankfully, my tenant has adhered to our agreement, but I have heard story after story about landlords who’ve been left high and dry, without the rental income vital to paying their bills. Now it’s clear that President Biden knew the eviction moratorium was outside of his and the CDC’s authority, but he and his Administration chose to flout the law and implement the moratorium anyway. Turley weighs in (emphasis is mine):
Some of us criticized the CDC order as unconstitutional. The reason is the breathtaking authority claimed by the CDC under a federal law that gives it the power to “make and enforce such regulations as in [its] judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases.”
I have long been a critic of such unchecked and undefined authority in pandemics. This, however, is a particularly chilling example. It would give the CDC authority over huge swaths of our economy to avoid even the possibility of the “introduction” or spread of a disease. It means that a Constitution designed to prevent tyranny and authoritarianism becomes largely irrelevant if you put on a white lab coat. After all, the law was designed to control disease, not democracy, as a public health priority.
And this isn’t the only example of the Biden Administration flouting the law and the constitutional limits to power. Turley writes about the Biden effort to exclude white farmers from a farm debt relief program. Litigation is now bringing fascinating information to light.
The June 2 email from Lawrence Lucas of Justice for Black Farmers Group ends with an intriguing statement “Please remember it was the Biden/Harris transition team that you headed up that told us that debt relief for Black farmers was ‘unconstitutional.’” That agriculture transition team was headed by now Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
However, Vilsack then proceeded to add the provision to the law while critics were denounced as effective racists. He claimed that the racial preference was “one of the most significant pieces of civil rights legislation in decades.” The media also heralded the legislation without even addressing the obvious constitutional concerns over its racial classifications. Federal courts later declared it as racial discrimination.
And now you know why I follow Professor Turley. He is a wealth of knowledge, a liberal who eschews politics for the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution. I appreciate and value his clear-eyed analysis.