The eagerness with which Gov. Kate Brown imposed a creeping lockdown on the State is astonishing. While initial decision to introduce a degree of social isolation to slow down the spread of the virus seemed justified, at least in the light of what we knew at the time, there is no scientific or legal basis for extending the lockdown beyond 28 days, without involving the Legislature, as is required by Oregon Statutes. Political motives seem to be behind this move; across the Nation, a number of allegations of foul play to slow down the economy and hurt Trump’s reelection chances have been made. I do not claim to read the Governor’s mind or know her motives. But I can see with a naked eye the damage to our economy.
Did the Governor act in good faith, addressing what she perceived as a dangerous emergency, to the best of her ability? Hardly. 28 days seems enough to convene a legislative session and consult medical experts. I cannot imagine the Oregon Legislature being so unreasonable as to deny the Governor necessary help in the effort to stop a dangerous epidemic. Regardless of her motives, the Governor inflicted lasting damage on our economy and demonstrated contempt of the Statutes and the Legislature.
The following is a letter I sent to the Oregon Supreme Court as amicus curiae in support of Judge Shirtcliff’s decision declaring the lockdown null and void. Now it is an open letter to the Court.
Regarding Gov. Brown’s handling of COVID-19 outbreak in Oregon.
In my opinion as a layman, Gov. Brown did not only show contempt for the Oregon Statutes, but also for the Oregon Legislature, whom she effectively excluded from the decision process concerning the State lockdown extension and its medical, social and economic implications. By singlehandedly extending the lockdown beyond the statutory 28 days, without consultation with the Legislative branch of the government, she has demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and democracy.
I grew up in communist Poland and saw firsthand the results of autocratic political power growing in contempt of the rule of law and the will of the people. While initially interest groups benefit from the power grab, eventually the tyranny unleashed by them devours its very supporters. The history of autocratic regimes shows this time and again, from the French Revolution to the Stalinist purges.
Gov. Brown did not need to step on the path to an autocratic power grab in order to address a medical emergency. All she needed to do to address a medical emergency, could have been done while respecting the rule of law and democracy. But she chose to disregard both, for no good reason.
I urge you, as an amicus curiae, to uphold Judge Shirtcliff’s decision and help keep Oregon lawful and democratic.