In a March 10, 2020 letter to Gov. Ned Lamont, CT ACLU Executive Director David McGuire wrote that “we recognize the use of a mandatory quarantine may be justified if it is scientifically supported, proportional to the risk presented, and is the least restrictive means to protect public health. … Residents must not lose their due process rights, including the right to challenge any quarantine. … We are available to meet and discuss your COVID-19 response planning and will be closely monitoring the government’s response to ensure that it is scientifically justified and no more intrusive on civil liberties than absolutely necessary.”
The CT Freedom Alliance agrees that the government must demonstrate a compelling public interest before removing any citizen’s civil liberties or constitutional rights, and must use the least restrictive means possible to achieve that purpose. But where was the CT ACLU on Feb. 19, 2020, when thousands of Connecticut parents decried the state’s attempt to permanently expel students from all schools in the state, simply because they are exercising their sincerely held religious beliefs in opposition to receiving certain vaccinations?
Here, where both a Connecticut and national state of emergency has been declared, and coronavirus is a real and demonstrated threat to public health, the CT ACLU is concerned that the government may not have a compelling interest to impose a mandatory quarantine to protect the spread of the virus. But when the state — in the face of absolutely no evidence of any actual public health crisis– proposed a bill to deny children their fundamental right to an education granted by the Connecticut Constitution, as well as their right to freely exercise their religious beliefs, the CT ACLU was silent. More than silent, they refused to assist our members who reached out for the CT ACLU’s help in resisting this legislation.
Please be consistent, Mr. McGuire. Either the government always has to show a compelling interest to remove a person’s civil liberties, or it never does. We urge you to put politics aside and defend every citizen’s right to exercise their constitutionally-granted civil liberties, including religious freedom.
Brian Festa is Co-Founder of the CT Freedom Alliance LLC.