Are emergency orders constitutional?: A UNM law professor weighs in | KOB 4

Are emergency orders constitutional?: A UNM law professor weighs in

Joshua Panas
Updated: March 19, 2020 07:00 AM
Created: March 18, 2020 05:43 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The government has made sweeping orders to help deal with the spread of COVID-19.

But are those orders constitutional?

UNM law professor Joshua Kastenberg does not believe the government has infringed on Americans' fundamental freedoms.

"There has been no unreasonable regulations or enforcement of laws in New Mexico, or frankly in the United States, to this date," Kastenberg said. "I don't have a crystal ball, no law school professor has a crystal ball or a federal judge for that matter to know what will happen tomorrow."

Restrictions on the public have been put in place before.

"What the Trump administration and congress has done is to issue guidelines that more or less fall within line with what the federal government had done after the immediate aftermath of Katrina," Kastenberg said.

Kastenberg said it's normal for fear to arise when the country faces more restrictions.

"What people fear about is... will there be a stoppage of gun sales, will the free press be curbed and we haven't gotten to that point yet," Kastenberg said. "I will say this on that point, the law is uncharted because all of our national emergency law that we've had since the beginning of this country is predicated on the national emergency being war with a foreign power."

Kastenberg also said laws vary by state.

"Believe it or not, the governors of the 50 states, depending on their state constitution, may have the ability to exercise more authority," he said.

People who feel like their constitutional rights are being violated can go to district court to seek a "redress against the government action," according to Kastenberg.

The ACLU recently said the government action taken so far to contain the spread of the coronavirus appears reasonable. But the organization also plans to monitor government restrictions as they arise.

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