With a strange legal action, Governor John Bel Edwards is trying to shift the blame for his COVID-19 failure to a Baton Rouge pastor who refused to close his church.
There is enough information proving Governor John Bel Edwards’s lawsuit against pastor Tony Spell is based on a false premise, and his Declaration of the State of emergency was wrong-headed and used to attack the rights of citizens. He made a bad decision and due to his response, many Louisianans have died because they were denied early treatments and access to life-saving medication. Made worse, many were not able to be with their loved ones in their final moments. This is not a denial of the impact COVID-19 has had on our state or the world. However, he is using this lawsuit to deflect from his gross negligence in the handling of COVID-19.
This behavior is unbecoming of a public official. He should be removed from office. Here are some of the First Amendment rights he is violating with this lawsuit against Pastor Tony Spell:
Right to Individual Dignity
Section 3. No person shall be denied equal protection of the laws. No law shall discriminate against a person because of race or religious ideas, beliefs, or affiliations. No law shall arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably discriminate against a person because of birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, or political ideas or affiliations. Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime.
Freedom of Expression
Section 7. No law shall curtail or restrain the freedom of speech or the press. Every person may speak, write, and publish his sentiments on any subject, but is responsible for the abuse of that freedom.
Freedom of Religion
Section 8. No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Freedom of Assembly and Petition
Section 9. No law shall impair the right of any person to assemble peaceably or to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
According to John Bel’s lawsuit;
“Nearly 150 years ago, the United States Supreme Court recognized that the “professed doctrines of religious belief” could not supersede the “law of the land.” 4 Otherwise, “every citizen [would] become a law unto himself.”5 Spell disagrees with this fundamental legal principle. According to Spell, his “deep and abiding belief that he should assemble the [full] congregation for worship every Sunday”6 supersedes the Governor’s attempt to save lives in a pandemic.”
According to Louisiana Constitution, Article I.
All government, of right, originates with the people, is founded on their will alone, and is instituted to protect the rights of the individual and for the good of the whole. Its only legitimate ends are to secure justice for all, preserve peace, protect the rights, and promote the happiness and general welfare of the people. The rights enumerated in this Article are inalienable by the state and shall be preserved inviolate by the state.
Governor Edwards is the one behaving like he is a law unto himself. His actions are reminiscent of Pharoah when God told Pharoah to let his people go. It is time for John Bel Edwards to let his ego go. We are not a monarchy. No one made you king, John Bel.
Claston Bernard is a former LSU All-American athlete, a businessman, conservative activist and former congressional candidate.