Before Marin health officials impose travel restrictions on citizens, as they say they are considering for the holidays, they ought to remember this. It comes From Judge Daniel Ramcyk of the Second Judicial District Court:
“The government’s response to COVID-19 has in fact infringed upon many constitutional liberties: the freedom to worship, the freedom to assemble, the freedom to travel and the freedom to pursue our livelihoods, just to name a few.
And so, not surprisingly, we are now witnessing conflicts between government and the citizens it serves on how best to protect us from the pandemic while not restricting our individual constitutional rights.
The American judiciary long ago laid the legal groundwork for an effective way to balance governmental and individual interests when those two collide. Individual constitutional liberties are protected from government overreach by and through a constitutional right to “procedural due process.”
Procedural due process requires the government to follow a certain set of steps or actions before it deprives individuals of life, liberty or property. At a minimum, procedural due process requires notice, an opportunity to be heard and an impartial tribunal, as held by the United States Supreme Court in Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank (1950).
What that means, essentially, is that before our government issues orders that deprive citizens of their constitutional rights, it should hold public hearings regarding the necessity of these orders. Evidence should be presented. Testimony should be taken. Concerns should be aired and addressed. And then finally, an impartial tribunal should make decisions based upon all of the relevant data.”
(You can read Sherman R. Frederick’s weekly column in the Novato. Advance. To subscribe, call 415-892-1516.)