The personnel chosen by Mr. Biden for the committee will determine U.S. strategy on AI policy not only for the administration but also to shape AI competition with China and other adversaries for years to come.
The federal government is recruiting candidates for the committee and submitted a formal call for nominations in the Federal Register last week.
“AI presents an enormous opportunity to tackle the biggest issues of our time, strengthen our technological competitiveness, and be an engine for growth in nearly every sector of the economy,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in a statement. “But we must be thoughtful, creative, and wise in how we address the challenges that accompany these new technologies.
She said that approach “includes, but is not limited to, ensuring that President Biden’s comprehensive commitment to advancing equity and racial justice extends to our development and use of AI technology.”
The idea for the committee was created in a proposal during then-President Trump’s tenure, but became law through Congress’ overriding Mr. Trump’s veto of a 2021 defense bill.
The priorities and emphasis of the committee under Mr. Biden are likely to look different than under Mr. Trump. White House science adviser Eric Lander said new AI capabilities must be matched by the government’s ability to provide fairness.
“We must be sure that these [artificial intelligence] advances are matched by similar progress in ensuring that AI is trustworthy, and that it ensures fairness and protections for civil rights,” said Mr. Lander in a statement.
During the Trump administration, the federal government convened a National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence authorized through a 2018 defense bill. The commission issued a final report earlier this year to Congress that recommended spending billions of taxpayer dollars to foster AI innovation.
The commission, led by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, is set to expire later this year.
The new committee set to be staffed by Mr. Biden promises to focus on a wider range of issues. According to the government’s notice in the federal register, the committee will be tasked with giving Mr. Biden guidance on such things as how to prepare the American workforce for the “integration of artificial intelligence systems across all sectors of the economy and society.”
Nominations for personnel to serve on the committee must be submitted to the National Institute for Standards and Technology by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Oct. 25.
A CNN analyst slammed unvaccinated Americans on the network Friday, and suggested they have their traveling “privileges” revoked if they continue to hold out.
If this story doesn’t make your skin crawl, and also highlight how detached the establishment media is from reality, then nothing will. CNN medical analyst Leana Wen told the network on Friday morning that being an American comes with privileges, which in turn come with certain obligations to the rest of society.
“There are privileges associated with being an American,” she claimed. “That if you wish to have these privileges, you need to get vaccinated.”
“Travel, and having the right to travel in our state, it’s not a constitutional right as far as I know to board a plane,” she claimed as network pervert Jeffrey Toobin looked on.
.@DrLeanaWen: “There are privileges associated with being an American. That if you wish to have these privileges, you need to get vaccinated. Travel, and having the right to travel in our state, it’s not a constitutional right as far as I know to board a plane.” pic.twitter.com/eyhEVooV20
Wen apparently knows little of constitutional law. It’s clear she knows very little about how anything works in this country.
The Supreme Court weighed in on what Wen was yammering about in the 1958 case of Kent v. Dulles. Writing for the court, Justice William Douglas called basic travel a fundamental part of liberty.
“The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which the citizen cannot be deprived without the due process of law under the Fifth Amendment,” Douglas wrote.
Do you think the federal government is attempting to start a war against American citizens?
Yes: 99% (2107 Votes)
No: 1% (24 Votes)
But the point here is beyond the obvious for CNN. The point is that the American left wants to literally control people’s movements. They are in charge and they are going after Americans they view as problematic in any way they can.
These people are attempting to condition us to believe that we live to serve government, and not the other way around. They actually want us to believe that we can be manipulated into doing what’s right for the collective.
There is no collective in this country, because individual liberty trumps what those currently in power consider to be best to please themselves and others. Americans have the freedom of choice — we don’t owe our acquaintances a vaccine jab so we can all visit the same stores, or travel to the same spots.
Thankfully, CNN’s ratings are in the dumpster, so it’s not likely Wen’s message was seen by many people. But sadly, those running our government share Wen’s twisted view of civil rights — and this is a civil rights issue.
President Joe Biden on Thursday lashed out at Americans who have refused vaccines. He vowed to bring OSHA into the equation after companies have refused thus far to stand between people and their doctors or personal beliefs.
The Biden administration will seemingly dig deeper to deprive people who want to protect themselves from intrusive mandates. These authoritarians are looking at how to compel people to comply by inferring that our very freedom is selfish.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked at her Friday media briefing if Biden is considering banning unvaccinated Americans from flying.
“We are always looking at more we can do to protect and save lives,” she said. “Obviously, he made a significant and bold announcement yesterday, so I don’t have anything to preview — predict or preview for you, but we’ll continue to look for ways to save more lives.”
It’s officially open season on the unvaccinated. It’s time for people to dig in and draw a line. If D.C. Democrats can mandate a vaccine and then deny those who refuse it the basic right to travel, what else are these cretins capable of?
ALBERTA, Canada (LifeSiteNews) – A Canadian lawyer has urged readers to fight “to get our free society back” and blasted recent vaccine mandates as a great violation of “Canadians’ human dignity and personal autonomy.”
“Mandatory vaccination policies are abrupt departures from recent promises to protect Charter rights and freedoms,” wrote Marty Moore of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) in an Epoch Times opinion piece dated September 6.
“Requiring Covid vaccination as a condition for participating in basic aspects of society is a profound violation of Canadians’ human dignity and personal autonomy protected by our Charter,” Moore continued.
“This is not the ‘free and democratic society’ that the Charter envisions for Canada. In a free society, individuals can choose whether to receive a particular medical intervention or not.”
Moore’s column was written in response to the recent implementation of COVID-19 vaccine passports by some Canadian provinces.
Currently, Manitoba and Quebec have COVID-19 vaccine passports in effect. The vaccine passport for the province of British Columbia (B.C.) will take effect on September 13, and one for Ontario is expected to appear on September 22. The provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labradorwill implement their local vaccine passports in October.
Moore argued that vaccine passports have set aside “decades of legal protections for personal and bodily autonomy” and that they impose “discriminatory, scientifically dubious, and morally problematic mandates.”
“Mandatory vaccination policies are abrupt departures from recent promises to protect Charter rights and freedoms,” wrote Moore.
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Powerful nations of the world, including China, the UK, and Canada are discussing plans to require so-called ‘vaccine passports’ as a condition for travel, and possibly to restrict entry to shopping and entertainment venues.
Israel has already put in place a system to discriminate against those who choose not to take the COVID vaccine, and, in the United States, Joe Biden has signed a new executive order which could pave the way for the implementation of a ‘vaccine passport’ system. [See more below.]
This kind of medical dictatorship must be resisted, and therefore, we must act quickly before these authoritarian notions take root and spread!
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to SAY NO to government ‘vaccine passports.’ Tell your legislators to respect your freedom not to vaccinate without fear of repercussion.
People should not have to live in fear of government retribution for refusing a vaccine which is being rushed to market by Big Pharma and their fellow-travelers in NGOs, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
It would be intolerable and immoral for the government to coerce someone, and their family, to take a COVID vaccine against their will just so they can do their weekly grocery shopping, go to a high school soccer game, travel on public transport, or visit their relatives who live in a different part of the country, or overseas.
Medical freedom must be respected in principle and also in practice.
So, it is now time that our policy-makers listen to all voices involved in this vital conversation, and start to represent those who will not tolerate being punished, restricted, or tracked for refusing an experimental vaccine.
Simply put, legislatures must begin to act as legislatures again.
Questions must be asked. Hearings and investigations must be held. And, the legislatures of each state and country must return to the business of representing the people who voted for them, assuming their rightful place as the originator of legislation.
We will no longer accept the dictates of executive branches without question. And, neither can we accept the dictates of some doctors who seem detached from reality and from science.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition which asks national political leaders (as well as state and provincial legislators in the U.S. and Canada) to pledge to respect the rights of those who refuse a COVID vaccine, and NOT introduce ‘vaccine passports,’ or any other system which would discriminate on the basis of taking the COVID vaccine.
Moore took issue with a recent statement by B.C.’s Premier John Horgan, who claimed that the COVID jabs are “our ticket to putting this pandemic behind us.”
“These simplistic statements ignore the realities of Covid as documented in recent studies,” Moore responded.
“For example, Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries on earth, yet it currently has more Covid cases now than ever, in spite of 80 percent of the country’s adults being vaccinated. Further, half of the serious Covid cases in hospital are among vaccinated people. Israel is imposing lockdown restrictions again, along with providing a third dose of the vaccine.”
Moore also brought up a recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding a July 2021 COVID outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, highlighting that 95 percent of the residents had been “fully vaccinated.”
“(This) is illuminating. Of the more than 900 COVID cases, three-quarters were among fully vaccinated people. Four of the five people hospitalized were fully vaccinated,” Moore wrote.
“Perhaps most significantly, as reported by The Associated Press, ‘vaccinated people who got so-called breakthrough infections carried about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots,’ indicating that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are equally likely to transmit Covid to others.”
However, given the “broad and simplistic claims of government” and “the media-fuelled fear,” Moore concluded, “As Canadians, we will need to fight to get our free society back.”
The president of the JCCF, John Carpay, told LifeSiteNews recently that “discrimination against the unvaccinated is fear-based bigotry, not scientific.”
“Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries on earth, yet it is having more COVID cases now than ever, in spite of 80 percent of its adults being vaccinated,” Carpay said.
“Half of the serious COVID cases in hospitals are amongst vaccinated Israelis, and lockdown restrictions are on their way back. The Food and Drug Administration admits that ‘the scientific community does not yet know if the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine will reduce such transmission’.”
Before calling a federal election for September 20, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will mandate COVID-19 jabs as a requirement to travel domestically by air, train, or boat by late October.
The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) Erin O’Toole said last week that if elected he will implement a Canadian COVID-19 vaccine passport system.
As is usually the case, the Toronto Argonauts went down to defeat at the paws of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at their traditional Labour Day Classic game.
But there was something very unusual about Monday’s matchup: not only did fans have to provide a ticket to get in the ballpark, but they had to show proof of vaccination (or a recent negative COVID-19 test result).
Yes, here was a CFL game on a holiday Monday in which the security staff was stating, “Your papers, please!”
And those who were without proof were turned away at the gate.
(The question arises: do they at least get their money back?)
But what was the reason for this other than yet more virtue-signalling from the COVID-Karen contingent? Last time we checked, the vax passport in Ontario doesn’t kick in until Sept. 22, thanks to Premier Doug Ford’s most recent policy flip-flop.
So, what drove the Hamilton Tiger-Cats organization to prematurely discriminate against their vaccinated and non-vaccinated fan base?
And to show how ridiculous the policy is, fans STILL had to wear masks. And, social distancing was observed in the stadium (well, that’s not quite true: social distancing was observed in the nose-bleed seats, but not the prime lower-bowl seats because… well, perhaps the Wuhan virus hates cheapskates but respects deep-pocketed season ticket holders. Science!)
Likewise, did anyone notice the attendance of U.S. college football games on the weekend?
Such as the game in Ann Arbour, Mich., in which some 109,000 fans packed “the Big House”? Why do the Wolverines get to play in front of a full house but the Ticats were limited to 15,000 fans? Again, science, surely!
As for those football fans that did not have their “papers”? Well, we found some loyal (albeit unvaxxed) Ticat and Argo fans at the nearby Touchdown Pub on Barton Street.
And so it is, sports fans, that in the new world order courtesy of Vax Nation, the fully vaxxed are welcome at the playpen to watch a game live, while all the rest can stay home or go to a patio-equipped restaurant to watch the game on TV.
Idaho Republicans are choosing constitutionalism over neoconservatism.
Two Idaho county Republican central committees have approved resolutions recognizing The John Birch Society (JBS) for what it is — an organization dedicated to providing education and organized action “in accordance with moral and Constitutional principles.”
On July 27, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee approved a resolution declaring its support for the pro-America, anti-collectivist JBS. The Benewah County Republican Central Committee approved a similar resolution, Idaho Republican Party Region Chairman Bjorn Handeen told The New American on Monday.
The “JBS resolution” has been submitted to the Idaho Republican State Central Committee to be adopted by the state Republican central committee. But first, it has to pass a resolution committee. That hearing happens Friday, August 27.
The resolution follows controversy involving Kootenai County Commissioner Bill Brooks, who told the local newspaper, the Coeur d’ Alene/Post Falls Press, in a July 10 article that he was leaving the party, in part, because it tolerates the JBS. He told the newspaper that he had photographs of central committee members standing behind the table at JBS meetings, as if he’d captured something scandalous or illegal.
The leaders of the central committee, who’ve defended giving a platform to various groups after meetings, not just the JBS, aren’t heartbroken about Brooks’ departure. The resolution says those such as him — people who don’t support the party platform — are welcome to follow him out the door.
When asked if it is normal for the central committee to adopt resolutions in support of activist groups, Handeen said that it wasn’t. Nevertheless, the principles of the JBS — adherence to the nation’s founding documents and God for governing — tie in directly with the Idaho Republican platform, Handeen said. It’s not that people need to specifically support or be part of the JBS, he further explained; it’s that they need to support constitutional and moral principles.
The resolution sent the Twitter world into a flutter.
“The devolution of the Kootenai County Republican Committee away from the middle should alarm all of us and serve as a wake up call that it’s time to take action against these extremist zealots,” one tweeter tweeted.
“The GOP in Idaho has just split over support of the … John Birch Society,” someone else said in a retweet of the aforementioned tweet.
The relationship between Twitter and the real world remains an ongoing topic of debate. Nevertheless, these comments do indicate that not everyone is on board with the idea of less government and more responsibility. That, apparently, equates to extremist zealotry.
Brooks told the Press that he doesn’t believe the JBS resolution will pass at the state party level. Handeen, however, is “cautiously optimistic” that it will. “I think it could pass. We’ve been working hard,” Handeen told TNA. “We’ve had allies coming out of the woodwork.”
Rich Loudenback is the secretary for the Coeur d’Alene JBS chapter. He said this victory has been years — perhaps a decade — in the making. “Birchers,” an in-house term used to describe JBS members, have been hard at work. It takes work to get members organized and keep them active. Every year, members work booths at the local fair and gun show; they bring in speakers to discuss constitutional tenets and vital issues affecting the country, Loudenback said, citing a few examples of what such work looks like.
The John Birch Society, which does not endorse candidates for public office, believes that creating sufficient understanding among fellow citizens will cause politicians to move in the constitutionalist direction. But this is not to say that JBS members, acting as individuals, do not themselves sometimes throw their hats into the political arena. Some JBS members are part of the political infrastructure throughout the state, Loudenback noted, confirming Brooks’ allegations that Birchers have the gall to become part of their local government.
Handeen testified to the work Birchers have put in. “They have a presence with education,” he said. He’s seen members distribute books, pamphlets, and brochures with information on vital issues and Constitutional principles. Handeen fondly recalled how some time ago a regional JBS coordinator handed him a copy of Frederic Bastiat’s The Law.
All this perfectly aligns with the vision of JBS founder Robert Welch, who liked to say, “Education is our total strategy, and truth is our only weapon.”
Welch founded the JBS in 1958, after deciding that America desperately needed an effective and structured patriotic organization to beat back the nation’s Marxist threat. At the time, the Soviet Union was recognized as a major power, communism had officially engulfed over half the planet, and the United States government was actively rooting out communist agents, embedded in the government apparatus like termites. Welch warned that “Insiders” — a shadowy, international network of powerful elites with ties to influential government, banking, corporate, media, and nonprofit institutions in the world — were working toward an ever-increasing collectivist governing apparatus designed to strip Americans of liberty and wealth. Welch predicted from outset that the globalists aimed to “greatly increase socialistic controls over every operation of our economy and every activity of our daily lives.” The ultimate goal, Welch and the JBS have repeatedly said, was a one-world totalitarian government.
With Welch at the helm and a ship of dedicated, educated activists, the JBS exploded into a powerhouse grassroots organization, comprised of chapters from coast to coast, with its own book and pamphlet distribution apparatus, a speakers bureau, and an army of Birchers writing letters and making phone calls.
It only took a couple of years for the JBS to become an effective force, which catapulted major media into a tizzy. With the newspaper of the American communist party, People’s World, leading the way, major media launched a suspiciously concerted effort against the Society, setting off a pattern of inaccurate coverage and smears of the organization that continues to this day.
Despite years of media mistakenly insisting the JBS had been banished to the Siberia of relevancy by more respected conservatives, the JBS has taken its licks and continued marching on, with education always serving as the centerpiece of activism. The books and the pamphlets, and later, the videos and podcasts, continue to be pumped out. Birchers continue to meet and spread the word about constitutionalism and the schemes of the Insiders, now better known as the Deep State. And its affiliate magazine, The New American, continues to report what is really happening in America and the world.
The work of the JBS, 62 years in the making, is beyond a tipping point. It has become mainstream knowledge that there exists a very intentional, diabolical, and concerted effort to destroy this country. Americans clearly see their individual liberties dwindling.
It has become apparent that America, as the JBS kept screaming from the top of the mountain, is in peril of being submerged into complete tyranny.
Loudenback said one of the most common things he hears when meeting people is, “You guys have been right.” This is becoming a common sentiment.
People are waking up.
But now what?
“Tyranny is the best salesman for freedom, and unfortunately, Americans have experienced plenty of it over the last 18-plus months,” said William Hahn, current CEO of the JBS. “Tyranny’s arrival at our doors has caused a large awakening among Americans. They want to know how it came about and what they can do about it. The John Birch Society has warned about this direction for decades, but we find no comfort in being right. Rather, we offer a solution that allows all concerned Americans to constitutionally fight back against an organized agenda. Our success is largely dependent upon those that get involved and how hard they want to work to save freedom and independence for them and future generations. We invite all to check us out at JBS.org and to get involved.”
America needs an all-hands-on-deck effort to wrest the country out of the hands of collectivists, globalists and neoconservatives. If you are interested in joining the battle to restore America and rid it of tyranny, apply to JBS membership and get to work.
It is long past time for all capable, patriotic Americans to become active in restoring and preserving liberty. Just as the citizens of Idaho insist and work for a government that values true freedom and constitutional principles, citizens all over America can do the same.
And they must.
Paul Dragu is the communications director for The John Birch Society and the host of Freedom is the Cure podcast. He is an award-winning investigative journalist and the collaborative writer ofDefector: A True Story of Tyranny, Liberty and Purpose. Paul emigrated to the United States from communist Romania as a boy.
To use a twist on an Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen line, millions of people hate what they think Christianity is. Far fewer people hate what Christianity actually is.
Bringing this to mind, again, is a comment I recently came across from an avowedly “non-religious” mother who was upset that her seven-year-old’s Mormon best friend wouldn’t stop talking to him about Bible stories and Jesus. “I don’t want him to be religious, honestly,” the woman wrote to an advice columnist in April. “I want him to learn that you should be a good person and do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because God will punish you if you don’t.”
This is a common atheist perspective, one sometimes expressed even by Christianity’s more intellectual critics, such as the late essayist Christopher Hitchens and biologist Richard Dawkins. Yet it reflects a comic-book understanding of faith.
Here’s reality: Religious parents want their children to be good people, too (of course!), “and do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do”; they know that motivation by love of God is the ideal. But the wise among them understand something else as well: Fear of God is also necessary.
In fact, something corresponding to the love of God/fear of God model is reflected where many would least expect it: in psychology’s prescriptions. Famed psychologist Erik Erikson, by way of his well known “Stages of Psychosocial Development,” informed that when a child is in a certain early developmental stage, he only understands something is wrong if he gets punished for it.
This reality may disturb the moderns who’d rather romanticize matters. Yet it’s akin to how very young children can’t understand that an amount of liquid remains the same despite being poured from one size and shape container into one with different dimensions. Certain things are still beyond their immature minds — moral understanding is one of them.
For this reason, the parent/child model must in a way reflect the God/child-of-God model in that a youngster should ideally love his parents but also fear that he’ll endure their wrath should he misbehave. For what else will keep him in line and prevent him from hurting himself and/or others until he’s old enough to “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do”? Moderns’ failure to accept this reality is one reason today’s parenting is often so poor and too many children are woefully uncivilized.
But here’s the point: What do you do with people who, morally stunted and never rising out of those early developmental psychosocial stages, never learn to “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do” and only respond to fear of consequences? Do you with resignation just accept that they’ll do wrong?
Some may now say that this is what the police and judicial system are for, and recalcitrants very well may end up behind bars. But this raises a question: Why even have police and a judicial system if we’ll only accept a standard whereby people “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do”?
How is it that we find fear of God’s wrath too unacceptably primitive but instinctively accept fear of government’s wrath as wholly necessary?
Moreover, isn’t it better if the fear-of-God model is firmly in place, and aiding in behavioral control, so that we don’t have to resort to police and judicial action nearly as often?
As for Christianity, its critics should know that it recognized the “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do” ideal ages ago. Good theology holds that there are two types of valid repentance. One, “perfect contrition,” is the ideal and is when you’re sorry for having committed a transgression because you know it’s wrong and you love God. The other, “imperfect contrition,” is when you’re sorry only because you fear punishment.
The latter is accepted because Christians understood long ago what Erickson propounded long before he propounded it: that moral understanding will, like it or not, be beyond a certain population segment. Moreover, even generally “good” people will have “missing pieces” in their moral compasses; that is, many moral principles will be in their hearts so that they’ll genuinely feel bad when violating them. One or two (or more), however, may not be, so that they *may* know (intellectually) that violating them is wrong, but not actually feel bad at all when doing so.
Accepting only perfect contrition would be what’s most unreasonable: accepting only perfection — and perfection is not a thing of this world.
Anyway, observing today’s power-mad politicians, increasingly above the law and having no respect for it, it could occur to one that maybe, just perhaps, their behavior might be a tad better if they believed there was accountability in the next world that no amount of political clout could forestall.
As for Christianity’s critics, know that faith will certainly seem like a snake-handler’s domain when you have a snake-handler’s understanding of it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a bonanza for government officials, allowing them to extend authority that they then exercise with relatively little oversight or restraint in ways that would have been inconceivable in the past. It has accelerated the transformation of previously free societies into permission-based states, where things once done as a matter of right are now considered privileges to be dispensed or withheld by those in power. Case in point: the Biden administration reportedly discussed making travel within the United States conditional on vaccination status but is holding back out of fear that the public has yet to be sufficiently softened-up for such an intrusive restriction.
“While more severe measures — such as mandating vaccines for interstate travel or changing how the federal government reimburses treatment for those who are unvaccinated and become ill with COVID-19 — have been discussed, the administration worried that they would be too polarizing for the moment,” the Associated Press reported last week after discussions with administration insiders. “That’s not to say they won’t be implemented in the future, as public opinion continues to shift toward requiring vaccinations as a means to restore normalcy.”
The AP emphasizes that “White House officials say Biden wanted to initially operate with restraint to ensure that Americans were ready for the strong-arming from the federal government.” The piece is unusually blunt in the glimpse it offers of an administration that embraces coercive measures to achieve its goals but is trying to co-opt businesses and localities as its proxies until Americans are more ready to do as they’re told.
“As a general rule, until 1941, U.S. citizens were not required to have a passport for travel abroad,” reports the National Archives.
“Airline travel in the early 1960s was still fairly carefree: If you had a ticket, you could board a plane,” the Los Angeles Timesnoted in 2014.
Invoking security concerns, officialdom imposed documentation requirements and subjected people and their luggage to the extensive screenings with which we’re now all too familiar. Starting in 2009, Americans had to show passports to be readmitted to the United States on their return from journeys beyond the border. So, the federal government making interstate travel a privilege granted only to those in its good graces would be just one more step down a path traveled before—but a big one.
Note that this isn’t about the wisdom of getting vaccinated; let’s stipulate that vaccination for COVID-19 is effective and generally a good idea. But traveling within the country has historically been treated as a right to be freely exercised without the need to seek permission from the government, no matter how wisely (improbable though that is) officials exercise their discretion.
“Freedom of movement within and between states is constitutionally protected,” Georgetown Law’s Meryl Justin Chertoff noted last year after states and localities began imposing travel restrictions. “The right of Americans to travel interstate in the U.S. has never been substantially judicially questioned or limited.”
But Chertoff acknowledged that governments tend to enjoy more leeway in exercising authority when they invoke the words “public health,” and civil liberties advocates often let them get away with it.
It’s not just the freedom of travel at risk of becoming a conditional privilege.
“Through vaccination requirements, employers have the power to help end the pandemic,” Jeff Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said last Thursday as part of the effort to get employers, businesses, and local governments to impose rules that Americans aren’t yet prepared to accept from Washington, D.C. Localities including New York City and San Francisco have obliged by making many indoors activities, such as dining in restaurants, attending performances, and exercising in gyms, conditional on vaccination.
Again, the issue isn’t the effectiveness of vaccination or of other public health measures. The concern is the conversion of everyday activities like travel, work, and shopping into privileges to be permitted only to those who please the powers that be.
“States must adopt laws that allow them to suspend driver’s, professional, occupational, and recreational licenses of individuals who owe overdue support,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services, citing the requirements of a law intended to ensure payment of child support. And who could object to making parents meet their obligations to their kids? But that’s how rights become privileges, one ostensibly well-intentioned incursion at a time.
If the Biden administration does eventually require proof of vaccination as a condition for traveling within the United States, it will be moving just a little bit further down the path to making this country one based not on individual rights exercised at will, but on permission dispensed from above. With every step, we lose a little more of our freedom to do as we please and find ourselves stuck with the crumbs of whatever we’re allowed.
The American Society of Legal History announced that it will hold its annual meeting in New Orleans. The conditions for the New Orleans conference are strict. Attendees must be vaccinated, or provide a negative COVID test. Moreover, the organizers requested that only vaccinated staff interact with with attendees. And masks for everyone.
Proof of vaccination Registrants will be asked to provide proof of vaccination when they pick up their badges and other registration materials. Because many colleges and universities are allowing exemptions for medical or religious reasons, the Society will allow attendees who do not show proof of vaccination statusto present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before their arrival at the conference. Any participant with such a test but without proof of vaccination will need to wear a mask at all times.
Masking The policy for wearing masks will conform to CDC guidelines in place at the time of the conference. It is possible, and even likely, that we will be requiring all attendees to wear masks at all events. Current CDC guidance is for masks to be worn by everyone attending indoor events in areas of high transmission. At present, Orleans Parish is rated by the CDC as an area of high transmission. We will continue to monitor CDC data for New Orleans Parish and keep members informed (through messages like this one and posts on our website) with regular updates about the masking policy.
Hotel and university vaccination and masking policies The hotel (InterContinental New Orleans) is currently reporting that 70% of its staff have been vaccinated. We have requested that only vaccinated staff interact with our conference attendees, and the hotel has indicated that it will seek to comply with our request. Hotel management also informs us that all hotel staff will be required to wear masks. Tulane University (where the plenary lecture will be held) currently has a masking requirement in place for all events on campus. Tulane also requires vaccinations for faculty and staff.
Alas, the American Association of Law Schools annual meeting will be virtual again.