Mike Kelly: fighting for your rights, or just his?

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA 16th) has joined some businessmen and state-level lawmakers in suing PA Gov. Tom Wolf, arguing that PA’s stay-at-home order should be lifted. In the lawsuit, Kelly and friends argue that some activities should be allowed to continue despite risks to public health – like campaigning for office.

The lawsuit also argues in favor of opening small businesses throughout the state without regard for whether the business is essential, how much the locale might already be suffering from COVID-19, or how risky the business is to spreading the disease. To give you a sense of the mindset here, check out this actual quote from Greene County district attorney David Russo:

“I cannot in good conscience stand by and watch our economy and the small businesses in my community perish.”

David Russo, Greene County, PA district attorney.

Perish. You know Dave, speaking of perishing: eighty thousand people. It should be noted that Russo is not actually a party to the lawsuit, but pledged not to prosecute any business that reopens even if the lawsuit fails and the stay-at-home order remains in place. So regardless of this lawsuit (which seems redundant to two lawsuits already tossed out by the PA Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court, respectively), businesses in Greene County will keep their freedom to unknowingly infect their fellow citizens.

This virus and the resulting economic shutdown have undeniably made life hard for small business owners. Worse, Congress’ efforts to step in as a last resort to provide relief for these small businesses have been woefully inadequate. I am of the opinion that our attempts to balance public health and economic growth should err on the side of public health, but business owners’ desire to return to work is understandable.

Then there’s that part about political campaigning. Who in their right mind would prioritize their own political campaign over the wellbeing of the very citizens they hope to represent? Enter Mike Kelly:

“[D]o our Constitutional rights to due process and freedom of association apply in the middle of a pandemic? The answer is yes.”

Rep. Mike Kelly (R, PA 16th)
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) is fighting hard for his right to see other people become infected with COVID-19 while he campaigns for office.

I’d like to focus on the freedom of association part of this. The first important thing to note is that American courts have held, over and over again, that no right is absolute. The enduring principle is that my rights end where they begin to infringe upon your rights. It’s about striking a balance.

This is not a new concept. Rights have always been about striking a balance. That’s why the right to free speech doesn’t allow us to slander someone else, or yell fire in the proverbial crowded theatre. Mike Kelly knows this. Everyone knows this.

He also knows that the freedom of association balance point changes quite a bit during a pandemic that’s killed 80,000 in two months despite a near-nationwide ban on crowds. Some unknown number of people are walking around in America with COVID-19 and don’t know it because they don’t have any symptoms; they can and do spread the disease. That’s the whole reason for these stay-at-home orders.

In fact, if there’s anyone in America that knows you can spread this virus unsuspectingly, it’s Mike Kelly. After the NBA, NHL, and MLB had all shut down their operations and three days after the CDC published guidelines recommending that anyone with a fever, cough, or other flu-like symptoms to stay at home and call your doctor – it seems Mike Kelly disregarded all of it to have lunch with some friends.

Despite this Facebook post having been published publicly, we removed last names out of courtesy.

Kelly has said publicly that he thought he had the flu. Frankly, casually spreading the flu to people isn’t much better, but fine. He had no business going out to lunch, but he did it anyway. Because of that reckless decision, he (allegedly!) spread COVID-19 to at least six other people.

What did Mike Kelly learn from all of this? Absolutely nothing. He survived COVID-19, after all. By joining this lawsuit, he’s fighting for your right to infect other people, too. To hell with the consequences.

After all, if this Facebook account is true – and we would really encourage credentialed media to follow up with Mr. Kelly on this – Kelly knows it. He knows whether the friends he visited for lunch wound up with COVID-19 just days after he tested positive, at a time when Butler County had zero positive cases.

By joining this lawsuit, he’s not only ignoring the similar lawsuits that were thrown out by the PA Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court; he’s deliberately closing his eyes to the consequences of his own actions. Actions that could have killed people he knows personally. All of this shows once again, as if a man that sells cars with open safety recalls needed to give us any further evidence, that there is simply no bottom for Mike Kelly.

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