When the police and the courts are the criminals

Here are the opening two paragraphs of my paper on “The Law of Self-Ownership” (footnotes omitted):

“When undercover police officers arrested Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia (pictured below, left) and Brenda Stephanie Mata (middle) in Laredo, Texas for working from their homes in violation of local lockdown orders, Jose Baeza Jr., an investigator with the Laredo Police Department said, without any sense of irony or shame, ‘These two ladies were not even licensed beauticians. There’s a health issue at hand.’ Similarly, when Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther (also pictured below, right), who presumably did have a license, was sentenced to seven days in jail and ordered to pay a $7,000 fine for refusing to shut down her beauty salon in violation of local shelter-in-place orders, Dallas Civil District Judge Eric Moyé told her, again with no sense of irony or shame, ‘The rule of law governs us. People cannot take it upon themselves to determine what they will and will not do.’

“The irony here is that it was the judge in the Luther case and the police in the Castro-Garcia and Mata cases who violated the most universal and sacred of our laws–the law of self-ownership–and who should arguably be thrown in jail for their abuses of power. Specifically, the property rights of all three women were violated by these shameless Texas authorities. In summary, although State governments do have the general police power to enact measures to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their residents, this paper will explain why such governments must comply with the Takings Clause whenever their police-power enactments significantly interfere with a person’s self-ownership rights.”

Photo Credit: Danny Zaragoza (Laredo Morning Times)

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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