CHRIS POWELL: So long, emergency powers; and is Bysiewicz libertarian?

Published on Friday, 28 January 2022 21:52

Maybe with an eye to the public’s growing skepticism of rule by decree as his re-election campaign begins, Governor Lamont has asked the General Assembly to maintain a nominal state of emergency about the virus epidemic while allowing his emergency powers to expire Feb. 15.

Lamont's request confused many legislators at first, but the pose he wants the legislature to help him strike might facilitate continued receipt of millions of dollars in epidemic aid from the federal government.

The governor also would like the legislature to continue a few of his emergency orders by enacting them in statute. If those orders are to remain in effect, the ordinary democratic way is indeed how to do it.

After nearly two years of rule by decree and extensions, Connecticut is long overdue to return to democracy. Yes, democracy takes time and can be messy. But by definition emergencies are sudden and desperate. They don't go on forever, and the epidemic has waxed and waned and may keep doing so without confronting the state with any situation it hasn't already faced. Most institutions are functioning, if not as well as they used to, like schools. But having fewer moving parts, the legislature can operate far more easily than schools can.

Apart from the necessity of getting back in the habit of democracy, extending the governor’s emergency powers would present a special risk. For no elected official should have unlimited power during his own campaign for re-election.

It is worrisome enough that with state government rolling in billions of emergency dollars from the federal government, the governor will be far more able than usual to use state resources essentially to buy votes.

The governor is not corrupt. But power hasn't stopped corrupting just because Donald Trump has left the White House.

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In marking last week the 49th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the abortion rights case of Roe v. Wade, Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz seemed to go full libertarian.

“Government," Bysiewicz declared, "should have no claim on a woman’s body or what a woman chooses to do with her body.”

That is, as the abortion-rights slogan goes, "My body, my choice."

But then why does Connecticut continue to outlaw prostitution without objection from Bysiewicz?

And what about government’s requirements for people to get vaccinated and wear masks during the virus epidemic? Bysiewicz isn’t agitating about choice there either.

As a matter of law Connecticut could not be more pro-abortion than it is. The state even allows minors who have been raped to obtain abortions without the knowledge of their parents -- even abortions arranged by their rapists. Any reversal of the Roe v. Wade precedent by the Supreme Court that returns to the states the authority to restrict abortion will have no effect in Connecticut.

So if Bysiewicz really believes in "my body, my choice," her blinders are attached a little too tightly. If, on the other hand, she was just posturing reflexively and thoughtlessly for the abortion fanatics in her party, people may understand.

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WHERE ARE THE PARENTS?: For many years in the United States the first principle of tort law -- the law for lawsuits seeking to recover damages for non-criminal wrongs done -- has been to sue the nearest person with insurance. That pernicious principle gained spectacular publicity this week with the federal lawsuit filed in California against two social media companies by an Enfield woman who claims that her 11-year-old daughter committed suicide because of her addiction to social media.

Yes, social media sometimes have baneful consequences, but then all forms of communications do -- telephones, television, radio, newspapers, the postal service, even playground arguments. Apparently the plaintiff and her lawyers in the California lawsuit anticipate that no one will ask how any 11-year-olds get access to the prerequisites of connecting to social media -- computers, cell phones, and the internet -- without the assistance or the negligence of their parents.

Maybe the defense lawyers will ask. Everyone else might help by asking what has become of parents lately in many other respects.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Friday, 28 January 2022 21:52. Updated: Friday, 28 January 2022 21:55.