Letters to the Editor: Since when did COVID-19 turn politicians into dictators?

Diners eat outside in Pasadena despite an L.A. County order forbidding it on Dec. 1.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: UC Berkeley law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky states that the government must prevail in legal challenges to its authority to close restaurants during the pandemic unless there is no conceivable purpose for the action. This accords with prior Supreme Court decisions.

OK, I agree we have an overactive judiciary, but Chemerinsky leaves a few cards on the table.

One, does an emergency change the applicable policy? And how? What are the limits of the government’s power during an emergency?


Next, what are our individual and commercial rights? Is government all powerful? It sets an extremely low bar to require that the government only show that it is not acting irrationally by shutting down outdoor dining at restaurants.

People elect government officials to perform vital functions, and an emergency surely increases the need for these functions, but we are not constitutionally required to submit to dictatorial power.

William N. Hoke, Manhattan Beach


To the editor: I read with interest Chemerinsky’s op-ed article stating that courts must give near unquestioned deference to elected leaders.

I was a student in Chemerinsky’s constitutional law class at USC. It was there that I learned that the courts exist to check unbridled government power.

But then again, it was the 1980s, and the Republicans were in power. Perhaps that is the true reason for his flip-flop on this issue.


Jennifer Vane, Pasadena