Constitutional Scholar Rob Natelson on Response to Coronavirus
Monday’s Talk Back show featured a time honored guest from Denver, former UM Law Professor and current Constitutional Fellow at the Independence Institute, Rob Natelson.
Natelson spoke of government overreach when it comes to emergencies such as COVID 19.
“Is their response targeted, or is the government trying to kill an ant with a shotgun,” asked Natelson. “If the fundamental rights like the right to travel from one place to another, the right to go to church, the right to assemble, if they’re involved, the courts are pretty restrictive on what governments can do, and there have been some recent cases upholding that against government overreach.”
Natelson looked back at the Montana government response to the Spanish Flu in the early 1900’s.
“State and local government too firm action,” he said. “They required masks in some cases, they reduced the number of business hours, they ordered reduced crowding, they improved ventilation and they approved additional health restrictions of all kinds, they closed down areas where people congregate like arenas and theaters and schools, but what they did not do was to try to close down the entire economy.”
After hearing a complaint regarding the local newspaper not printing a letter to the editor from a caller, Natelson focused not on what has been restricted, but what has not been restricted during this pandemic, starting with government employees and one more industry.
“Almost universally, these orders have excluded the media,” he said. “I think one effect of that has been that the media has really bought in to the government line to a disproportionate extent. I’m not saying that’s the case of the Missoulian (newspaper), but I’m saying it is true of the media generally to the point where they’ve become almost a state organ promoting whatever line the government wants them to promote with respect to COVID 19.”
Natelson has written a number of articles and opinions of new home state of Colorado’s response to the pandemic.
Natelson will soon begin a sabbatical that has been delayed due to the coronavirus.