Gorsuch Calls COVID Response “Greatest Intrusion on Civil Liberties”

  • In a statement, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch made it clear where he stands on the pandemic-era emergency response. 
  • Gorsuch called it “the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country.”
  • His statement came in response to a Republican-led effort to extend Title 42, a restrictive immigrant policy.

As COVID-19 spread across the United States in 2020, among the wide-ranging efforts to insulate the country from the pandemic was Title 42, a restrictive immigration policy allowing the rapid expulsion of asylum seekers and other migrants.

The measure — initially implemented by the Trump administration and expanded under President Joe Biden — expired this month. The US Supreme Court last week rejected a push by Republican-led states to keep it in place.

In an eight-page statement in response to the case, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t mince words. He called the country’s response to the COVID-19 emergency “the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country.”

“Executive officials across the country issued emergency decrees on a breathtaking scale. Governors and local leaders imposed lockdown orders forcing people to remain in their homes. They shuttered businesses and schools, public and private, ” Gorsuch wrote in the statement, released Thursday.

Gorsuch has long been critical of restrictive COVID-19 measures, the Associated Press reported. In January 2022, he was the only Justice who refused to wear a mask, forcing Justice Sonia Sotomayor to participate in oral arguments virtually. Sotomayor has diabetes and is at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 

In Thursday’s statement, Gorsuch warned that the “concentration of power in the hands of so few” won’t lead to “sound government.”

“One lesson might be this: Fear and the desire for safety are powerful forces. They can lead to a clamor for action —almost any action — as long as someone does something to address a perceived threat. A leader or an expert who claims he can fix everything, if only we do exactly as he says, can prove an irresistible force,” he wrote.

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