Just a few days ago, martial law came to New York, and no one batted an eye. It was as silent as an assassin and came in the most innocent of times.
New York City was hammered with roughly two feet of snow last weekend, in a record setting blizzard. As a resident of New Jersey, I can attest that this was a truly incredible storm. However, this was not the first time in my life that I have seen storms of this magnitude hit the tri-state area, which is why I was perplexed by the extreme measures taken by the city of New York.
In a totally unprecedented manner, Emperor Cuomo unilaterally decided to suspend New Yorkers’ rights in the name of ‘security,’ and without the due process of law. Cuomo instituted a “travel ban” in New York City, threatening motorists with arrest if they were on the roads after 2:30pm on Saturday, January 23rd. Their justification for instituting this travel ban was so that the roads could be sufficiently plowed without the inconvenience of dodging cars, and so that emergency vehicles could have easy passage.
Though what is strikingly odd is that New York City gets hammered with blizzards every single year and has never once had to threaten motorists with arrest so they could plow the roads. If this ban was so necessary, then why has the city been able to effectively keep the roads clear during every snowstorm since the advent of the automobile? And how was Washington D.C., which received more snowfall than New York last weekend, able to keep their streets clean without a ban?
Considering this, it seems that this ban was less about keeping the streets clean and more about seeing what the government could get away with, as well as what the populace would be willing to tolerate. As well intentioned as the ban may seem, New Yorkers need to understand that this unconstitutional travel ban was illegal, and that any and all arrests of motorists were unjust. The state has no Constitutional authority to dictate where you must be. The Constitution is meant to regulate the government, not you.
In order to arrest someone, law enforcement needs a just and probable cause. Since the ban was not lawful, the NYPD had no legal authority to arrest motorists, since they were not violating any existing laws. If I used the roads to go back to college that day, I would not have been violating any laws, and they would have no sufficient reason to arrest me. Going back to school is not a crime.
Though the government suspended the rights of New Yorkers without the due process of law, it is often said that they have the authority to do this during emergencies. If weather qualifies as an emergency, then what should we expect when a legitimate emergency occurs? If I have no right to use the roads I am forced to pay for because of snow, then what should I expect if ISIS is to attack? Will I not be able to help protect my loved ones?
New York’s travel ban should not be overlooked, and this should not be seen as simply a minor infraction. This is a highly illegal and dangerous precedent to set, and New Yorkers ought to be weary of what their government may do next.
If the natural occurrence of weather is a sufficient cause for the suspension of our rights, then what more will the government use to justify a usurpation of power? Just a few months ago, we saw Paris put their city on lockdown after a mass shooting. What more will New York do when they are already taking similar measures for a snowstorm?