With all the turmoil in the world right now, I have been approached with questions regarding rights of individuals and business owners. I recently wrote a letter to all residents of Utah outlining my thoughts on business owners’ rights to run their businesses. I have included excerpts from that letter below. The full letter can be viewed on the “We Are Essential” section of my website: http://www.integralaw.net
Utah is in a financial crisis right now because of our national, state, and local responses to COVID-19. Utah is also facing a freedom crisis because of the unilateral and arbitrary restrictions of essential liberty. The Declaration of Independence explains that we “are endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our government does not give us rights and does not have power to take them away. The Declaration of Independence also outlines that the purpose of government is “to secure these rights” and that governments “deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed.” COVID-19 is not the only threat to life. Have we considered the unintended consequences of forcibly shutting down businesses and implementing stay at home orders? These government actions have created irrational fear and increased stress. Is life without liberty the quality of life we desire? Patrick Henry’s well- known statement “give me liberty or give me death” encapsulates the American belief that liberty is essential to purposeful life.
Small Business Owners, the ones hit hardest by these actions, employ 48% of the workers, generate 44% of economic activity, and generate 50% of GDP for our country. They are not just important to our economy; they are vital to our economy. Opening businesses would not force any person to patronize businesses. Rather, it allows the conscious exercise of liberty by giving people the opportunity to weigh and manage their own risk. Business owners have the right to run their businesses under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and Title 18 Section 242 of the United States Code.
I hope that people will learn about their rights and foster a spirit of cooperation, not conflict. I understand that there will be many who deal in the extremes of freedom and security. My hope is that business owners will exercise their rights appropriately while being responsible citizens. Business owners have the freedom to open their doors and people have the freedom to patronize those businesses. If business owners choose to refine their normal processes of providing service to accommodate the concern over COVID-19, it is likely that people will be more willing to engage with the business because it will be easier for the customer to weigh and manage the risk.