Simon Says You May Take Off Your Mask - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Simon Says You May Take Off Your Mask
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White House Press Secretary calls Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of the CDC mask mandate “disappointing,” April 18, 2022 (Bloomberg Quicktake: Now/YouTube)

Americans spent the last two years losing at Simon Says.

A federal judge in Florida won the game by correctly recognizing nobody said “Simon says” before telling us all to mask up before boarding planes, trains, and Uber-mobiles.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled earlier this week that “the mask mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority.” She did not ask, “Who elected these faceless bureaucrats?” But in calling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s imposition of rules on transportation “arbitrary” and “capricious,” and highlighting its failure to properly promulgate and explain the rules, Judge Mizelle essentially ruled, “Never said ‘Simon Says.’”

When legislatures duly elected by the people pass laws signed by, or overriding the veto of, an executive, laws exist that citizens must follow under penalty — just as a player must touch his nose when Simon says or face the consequences. When an elected executive, an official appointed by an elected executive, or a bureaucrat who merely passed a civil service examination declares an activity illegal, one should behave as though nobody said, “Simon Says.” To do otherwise encourages unfair play, which in real life off the playground amounts to usurpation.

Power-hungry people in government imagined that the spread of a disease meant the rules of a republic no longer applied.

Throughout the pandemic, the president, governors, mayors, the CDC, and public health commissioners issued decrees as though carrying the force of law. Law comes from the consent of the governed through majorities in legislative bodies. Some guy saying something somewhere does not make a law. Did coronavirus kill our understanding of grade-school civics, too?

Federal, state, and local government took their cues from that Brooklyn subway rider who, weeks before the U.S. reached 100 COVID deaths, sprayed an Asian straphanger with Febreze on the N-train. In other words, they acted dictatorially and irrationally in response to a legitimate health crisis.

What law did a Kentucky judge follow in ordering an ankle bracelet on a man guilty of “walking around” after not he but relatives in his home caught coronavirus? Ditto for four ReOpenNC protesters arrested for walking on — of all places — the sidewalk outside of the North Carolina governor’s mansion? Or the Malibu man arrested for violating the governor’s stay-at-home mandate by paddle-boarding on the ocean?

From CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s non sequitur ukase telling landlords they cannot evict tenants to President Biden’s vaccine mandate on employers with 100 or more employees, the federal government similarly acted in ways that regarded legislatures as pesky, antiquated institutions to bypass rather than heed. Courts, thankfully, slapped them down in many cases.

Power-hungry people in government imagined that the spread of a disease meant the rules of a republic no longer applied. Presidents, governors, mayors, and people nobody had ever heard of let alone cast a vote for assigned themselves the power to create law.

In Tampa this week, a 35-year-old Donald Trump appointee to the federal bench put an end to unelected bureaucrats working for the CDC imposing, by force of law, transportation rules vetted by neither the public nor its elected representatives. For this, a Vox article said her decision, the one that invalidated the quasi-law enacted by unelected government administrators, “should trouble anyone who cares about democracy.” This projection should trouble anyone who cares about democracy.

Note that Simon, er, Judge Mizelle, did not say everyone must take off their masks. Her ruling simply allows travelers the freedom to choose. The political neat-freaks in the Biden administration, despite the CDC’s mask mandate ostensibly expiring on May 3, vow to appeal the ruling to make every traveler, more than two years into COVID, again faceless behind a mask.

We caught more than COVID from China. This disease of the soul strikes as nothing that a children’s game cannot cure.

Daniel J. Flynn
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Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website, www.flynnfiles.com.   
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