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Justice Bradley’s ignorance of history: “Safer at Home” order is not like the internment of Japanese Americans

An Open Letter to Justice Rebecca Bradley of the Wisconsin Supreme Court

No, the “Safer at Home” order currently in effect across the state of Wisconsin is not like Japanese internment camps of WW2, and there is no chance that it will be. Being asked to stay at home to protect yourself and other people is not the same as being ripped from your home and taken to a prison camp where you are not allowed to leave for any reason.

Being furloughed due to the tough economy brought about by COVID-19 is not the same as losing your house and all your possessions. Not being allowed to shop or dine out for a while is not the same as being incarcerated because you are perceived to be an enemy combatant because of your heritage. Having to hear a court case over video while protecting yourself at home is not the same as losing your freedom and rights as a citizen because people are scared of your last name.

Your ignorance of history and your privilege are showing and it is not pretty.

And no, the governor and health secretary extending the “Safer at Home” order is not tyranny. Tyranny is Adolph Hitler killing 12 million people. It is the Chinese crackdown on Tiananmen Square. It is Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin, and others imprisoning and killing their own citizens. It is not a soft-spoken Wisconsin governor who is doing his best to keep people alive.

You ask, “where in the Constitution did the people of Wisconsin confer authority on a single unelected cabinet secretary to compel almost six million people to stay at home and close their businesses and face imprisonment if they don’t comply?” The answer is simple and you know it. It’s called representative government.

The people gave the legislators they voted into office the authority to create laws for the benefit of all and those legislators created laws that allow this during a pandemic. If the Republican leadership does not like the laws as they stand, they can draft their own legislation. It is in the job description.

Wisconsin citizens also gave the State Supreme Court the power to decide Constitutional questions with the expectation that justices would be objective and not partisan hacks. Republicans have been saying for years that judges – every time those judges decide against them – are activist judges who try to create laws from the bench. Project much?

The laws in this state are already clear on this issue. Overriding the “Safer at Home” orders would simply be the court overriding the will of the people through the acts of the legislature. It would be activist conservative judges creating laws from the bench.

There is little doubt that the decision that will be handed down soon will favor the Republican leadership that skipped lower courts and brought this case directly to you and your fellow conservatives on the bench.

It was clear when the court agreed to hear the case instead of sending it to a lower court that the “Safer at Home” order would be overturned. I sincerely hope that doing so does not endanger anyone – including you and your loved ones–though anyone with an ounce of sense and the ability to understand basic science would not bet on it.

No, the governor and his health secretary will not be sending Wisconsin citizens to concentration camps. But it is very likely the Supreme Court will be sentencing countless Wisconsin citizens to death sentences.

Callen Harty

Library of Congress

Originally published as Open Letter to Justice Rebecca Bradley

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