In 1991, the Supreme Court awarded itself arbitrary, unchecked power to issue any amount of financial penalties it chose upon parties before the court that they thought behaving improperly. In a scathing dissent, Justice Anthony Kennedy accurately predicted that “pernicious practical effects will follow.” Chambers v. NASCO, 501 U.S. 32, 67 (1991).
Indeed, pernicious results always follow the award of unchecked, dictatorial power to human beings. On March 11, for the first time in the year since Governor Greg Abbott and a swarm of county judges and mayors started illegally and unconstitutionally implementing COVID tyranny, long-suffering Texans finally got a chance to petition for redress of grievances with their representatives in front of the Texas House State Affairs Committee.
And the emotional outpouring of stories of devastation to the people of Texas put a human face on the dry statistics of damage wrought – not by the disease, but by the arbitrary, dictatorial edicts done in the name of the disease. Moving testimony was provided about deaths from diseases less privileged than COVID, suicides due to the loneliness of lockdowns, livelihoods and life savings and dreams destroyed, children’s mental and physical health smashed, young adults’ loss of treasured memories never made, and separation from loved ones during critical moments in the hospital, nursing homes, and funerals.
The state representatives sitting on the committee where HB 3 (the pandemic response bill being pushed by House leadership) was being heard brought tears to their eyes several times.
It was a day that Texas has long needed. A day where the people the framers intended to be in charge, after a year of being abused and frightened and bullied by the executive branches of their governments, finally got a chance to tell their stories of devastation and loss. And they got to demand that future Texans never again endure such pernicious results of tyranny.
The House leadership tried to manage the hearing to put the best face on the bill designed to excuse, codify the tyranny Texans have faced and ratify it, making it possible again in the future. Representatives of various industry groups and governmental officials responsible for managing the edicts by the governor were given privileged, invited testimony with no time limits that lasted for hours before the people got to speak. But the people of Texas were having none of it. When they finally got to speak, they mesmerized and soared.
The hearing did not go the way the governor and the House leadership hoped. And it was a cathartic, determined, wonderful day for Texas.
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