It seems that today, tyranny and authoritarianism have gained a foothold in virtually every one of our institutions. The executive branch is consolidating more and more power with each passing president, the most recent of which famously declared that he had a phone and a pen that he could use instead of going through congress. The courts are stacked with ideologues dressed in black robes, and just a handful of them have the power to make decisions that could affect America and American lives for generations. State and local governments are regulating just about everything that they can get their hands on, from gun rights to puddles of water in your backyard. College campuses have established “free speech zones” where students must go if they wish to speak freely; speaking outside of these zones often results in disciplinary action or issues with campus police.
What’s worse is that much of this goes unnoticed. Not all tyranny is waved in our faces. On the contrary, there is a tremendous amount of power constantly being accumulated behind the scenes, out of the public eye and away from media scrutiny. Indeed, this is the case with the Centers for Disease Control, which has just been granted new sweeping regulatory powers. (RELATED: Read about how the CDC falsely claims that flu shot vaccines do not contain mercury).
Previously, the CDC’s quarantine power was limited to detaining people who were either entering the country or crossing state lines. Additionally, the CDC was only permitted to quarantine people who had one of about 12 diseases, including cholera, plague, small pox and yellow fever. But, due to a set of last minute regulations issued by the Obama Administration last month, the CDC now has the authority to detain people anywhere in the country, and is not required to get approval from state and local officials.
The CDC can also apprehend people if they are experiencing body cramps, headaches or high fevers, which is a significant expansion of power from the limited authority the agency had before. (RELATED: Is the CDC a vaccine company?)
James Hodge Jr., a professor of public health and ethics at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, said, “Because of the breadth and scope of the definition of ill persons, CDC can target a much wider swath of persons to assess and screen.” Hodge is a proponent of the CDC’s newfound authority, calling the new rules “really necessary.”
Another professor of global health law at Georgetown University agreed. “The CDC has been operating its infectious disease powers under really antiquated regulations,” Lawrence Gostin explained.
Both of these professors, in my personal opinion, are very naïve. Although the CDC may mean well, and although it may not be out to specifically target our civil liberties, their recent expansion of power should not be welcomed by the people with open arms. As James Madison once said, “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” The Centers for Disease Control is no exception.
Several attorneys have already spoken out about the CDC’s expanded authority, and rightly so. Wendy Parmet, a health policy lawyer at Northeastern University, explained that the new regulations “could represent a great danger to Americans’ health and civil liberties.” She said that the expanded power would allow the agency to detain people for up to 72 hours before their cases become subject to review. She adds that the review could even be conducted by the CDC itself, as opposed to a fair, unbiased entity.
Parmet warned that “unless these regulations are carried out with care, and by people who [base their actions] on science, they can be used to trammel the civil liberties of Americans.”
I’ll conclude with one more quote from James Madison: “Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.”