Scott Tibbs

More on masks and buses

By Scott Tibbs, April 18, 2022

I am not completely opposed to mandating masks on Bloomington Transit buses. Masks can be annoying, and I am not convinced they do much to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on public transit, but it is not that big of a deal. What I strongly oppose is the federal government being the one to mandate masks. This is an important distinction. The Tenth Amendment actually does exist, and the federal government does not have the authority under our constitution to micromanage the dress code for passengers on a city bus system.

This is why I explicitly offered a solution in my letter to the editor: Have the city council pass a mask mandate for Bloomington Transit to be signed by Mayor Hamilton. This way, the mask mandate can be in place without local government abandoning its authority and passing the buck to the federal government. This is much more democratic, with the elected representatives much closer to the people making the decision.

Even if the federal government had the authority to implement a nationwide mask mandate on every intra-city bus system in the nation, President Joe Biden does not have the constitutional authority to implement it by himself via executive order or through administrative agencies he controls. In our system of government, the legislative branch writes the laws and the executive branch enforces the laws. The executive branch does not get to write the law.

So no, despite the criticism I took in the comments on Herald-Times Online, this is not about "personal freedoms" or libertarianism, but about the rule of law and the balance of power between the federal government and the states, and also between the branches of the federal government. Congress has increasingly become the vestigial organ of the federal government, with the President making policy by himself. And lest Republicans get too smug about this issue, Donald Trump regularly exceeded his authority as President with his executive orders.

The COVID-19 pandemic is over, and the virus has become endemic. But the pandemic of government exceeding its constitutional authority continues and is getting worse. The only way out of this pandemic is for state and local government to get vaccinated with a shot of courage and respect for the rule of law. State and local government must start acting as the nation's immune system against the Deep State.

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