Courts to governors: Remember that people have rights

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In times of great crisis, the United States has risen to the challenge of overcoming the threat to life, liberty, and safety while preserving the constitutional rights afforded to its people. The coronavirus pandemic has quickly shifted from a public health crisis to a constitutional crisis that threatens essential liberties.

As lawsuits have finally worked their way through the courts, decisions are now coming down that call into question the near-absolute powers that some governors have seized, preventing state executives from elevating themselves above the legislative and judicial branches.

In March, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz ordered Minnesotans to social distance for two weeks to flatten the curve of infection in the state, invoking state public health emergency laws to require compliance. Public officials proudly called for Minnesotans to do their patriotic duty and sacrifice their livelihoods, faith, and ways of life to fight COVID-19. Endless public safety briefings warned that thousands of Minnesotans would be on ventilators and that intensive care units would be overrun unless people complied.