Flu “emergency” powers can be extensive

President Obama has declared the H1N1 or “swine” flu a “national emergency.”  Exactly what this will mean to the average citizen remains unclear, as shortages of the swine flu vaccine continue; but it is unlikely that simply declaring an “emergency” will relieve bottlenecks in distribution or cause additional supplies to magically appear.  What is perhaps more interesting, will be if governors follow the president’s lead and start declaring state “emergencies” simply because the H1N1 flu virus has appeared in their state.  Various “emergency declaration” provisions in state law books or currently being considered by state legislatures (such as in Massachusetts) give the governors extensive, if not downright frightening powers once an “emergency” is declared.

Legislation currently pending in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for example, would allow the governor to forceably quarantine citizens in the event he declares a “health emergency.”  Forced vaccinations could also be ordered, and even forced police entry into private homes and destruction of property; citizens could be jailed for failure to comply.  In Georgia, the legislature placed at least some limitations on the powers our governor would enjoy if he were to declare a “health emergency”; limits that would allow the citizens of the Peach State a great deal more freedom from unchecked police powers than would be enjoyed by their counterparts in the Bay State. 

In Georgia, for example, the governor must first obtain the agreement of the General Assembly before the still-extensive powers he would enjoy presiding over a self-declared “emergency” or “health emergency” could be exercised.  And, reflecting our very different understanding of the Second Amendment in Georgia as opposed to Massachusetts, in Georgia even in a declared emergency the governor could not take away a citizen’s personal firearms if the citizen owned them prior to the declaration.  While any such limitation on the right of a law-abiding citizen to possess (or buy) a firearm would be inappropriate — especially in an emergency when by definition the need to protect one’s family or one’s home might be especially critical — at least the Georgia state legislature had the foresight to address the preservation of the Second Amendment under such circumstances.

25 comments Add your comment

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

October 28th, 2009
7:55 am

Well, we got a God-given right to go out and catch the swine flu, no matter what the guvmint does.

And God give us the right to keep our weapons handy. I know I keep my two machine guns and the anti-tank weapon I use for hunting and self-defense handy just in case somebody tries to act up. This is GA, not some weenie state.

So use your Freedom, folks. Get out there and mix it up and if you get a little flu, well, it’s worth it. Have a good day everybody.


October 28th, 2009
9:46 am

Well thanks to Mesiah Obama, I’ll just sit had wait for the vacine to arrive in sufficient quantities and then I’ll take the shot in hopes that I don’t get the H1N1 for the SECOND TIME. Thanks

We Are Change Atlanta

October 28th, 2009
9:57 am

Mr. Barr’s analysis is incorrect. The Georgia governor has the power to declare an emergency and force vaccinations w/o the legislature being convened. Please see Senate Bill 385, passed in 2002.

Here is a video overview of the laws on the books in Georgia:



October 28th, 2009
10:19 am

Government does not have the right (and should not ever be given the power) to confiscate privately owned firearms in any “declared emergency”. Has the mayor of New Orleans been forced to give back the firearms seized during Katrina yet??? Why is he NOT in JAIL???

On a related topic, note how the AJC removed any reference to the defensive use of firearms in the story “Gunmen storm UN guest house in Kabul, 12 dead”. There was one guy in there who apparently held off attackers with a Russian made rifle (probably a so-called “assault” rifle) to allow others to escape.

You have to wonder what other news stories they ran and conveniently omitted the mention of any self-defense with a firearm.

Fortunately most of us with a brain can see through this spin tactic.

Piso Mojado

October 28th, 2009
10:25 am

Comparing Massachusetts to Georgia in anything is like comparing apples to chickens. Things down here in GA have to be dumbed-down because of Georgian’s education level. 75% of high school seniors graduate in MA, as opposed to 54% here in GA. Regarding guns, GA ranks 16th in number of firearm-related deaths per 100,000 residents, while MA ranks 50th. Let’s just Georgians aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. And they seem to be damned proud of it.

Bob Barr’s commentaries are little more than personal beliefs, with a modicum of fact sprinkled in on occasion. His job is to stir the masses, not offer any sort of cogent argument. And they’re easy to stir down in these parts. Sometimes what he writes is true, sometimes it’s not.

STW – vaccine has 2 “c”s and messiah has 2 “s”s.

Jerry Royster Fan

October 28th, 2009
10:30 am

I don’t understand the point of this paranoid column… it must be an extremely stressful life to sit around and imagine doomsday scenarios where the Orwellian government COULD decide to storm your castle and force you to be vaccinated, and apparently randomly destroy some of your property.

It almost sounds like Mr. Barr will be disappointed if this does’t happen.

Meanwhile, the rest of us who simply took the time to educate ourselves about this understand that the declaration of a national emergency was simply a proactive step to allow hospitals to open alternative sites, in the unlikely scenario where it becomes necessary.

Wait a minute…”alternative sites” …sounds like code for those “FEMA Concentration Camps!” Run for the hills, Bob!


October 28th, 2009
10:42 am

We have become a country where everything seems to be a “crisis” or an “emergency”. This has happened over time but the current administration seems to have perfected it. In the last nine months we have had an economic crisis. Our entire health system is broken and in crisis. We have had a banking crisis. Our auto industry was in crisis and had to be rescued. Our climate is in crisis. We have a health care
emergency [the flu]. A water crisis. The list goes on.

I can remember when a crisis was a crisis. It was a time when things went wrong occasionally but the government did not feel responsible for every little thing that happened, nor did they feel they had to put it right. A time when people took responsibility for things that went wrong in their lives, and there was no expectations of the government.
I think it was a better time. I know it produced better people.

We have become a country of needy and dependant people happy to let the government take responsibility for our lives, and we have created a government happy to accept it.

Louis Cyphre

October 28th, 2009
10:59 am

Piece-o My-Head-o,

Aren’t you the same gutter-snipe that was posting on here yesterday about a Gillette razor being part of logic in Ass-achusetts? If it weren’t you, it sure did sound an awful lot like one of your ’schizo’ psuedonyms. Ass-achusetts health plan continues to remind one of the Titanic and continues to bleed red ink. So much for the experiment in communism in the ‘Retard State by the Bay’. Rest of the world got an idea that communism didn’t work but you folks seem determined to beat that dead (and buried) horse.

Maybe you just like beating dead things.

BTW, we were able to welcome Ted Kennedy into Hades the other day. He was a mighty useful instrument in ‘Ass-achusetts’. Got a big welcome waiting for Ass-achusetts finest, Bwarney Frank.


October 28th, 2009
11:50 am

Let’s just see how this plays out. If there are mass quarantines and people are “forced” to get the vaccine..(which is barely around anyway..) I will come back to this site and convert to the “govt is the boogie man..” way of life..

Anyway..see you next year so we can look back on all of these crazy posts and laugh and laugh..


October 28th, 2009
12:46 pm

last year the gub-ment told us (GA) when we could buy gasoline. here in Atlanta, the gub-ment told us when and how much water we were permited to consume (and how much we had to pay for it keeps increasing). take your pick; Second Amendment, health care (flu shots), spending on “defense” (Iraq, Afghanistan) and bailouts (Wall Street and Motor City). the government is only interested in its own interests (as defined by Big Pharm, Big Defense, Big Oil, Big Med, Big Banking, etc.). It is NOT interested in freedom, democracy, or the Constitution. get used to it folks.


October 28th, 2009
12:51 pm

Administration by smoke and mirrors – if we have our attention diverted by a series of crises, then we might miss how this administration is conducting “business as usual” for the Liberals. We were promised CHANGE – I could use some change right now, since most of my taxes are bailing out financial, auto and other industries. Reminds me of the ad for the vacation hotel – “Come here for a change and a rest – the bellboy gets the change and the hotel gets the rest!” We were promised CHANGE – no more special treatment for campaign donors – yet, look at the appointments, the access, etc., by donors to the administration’s campaign. Shameful. Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, many are simply and mindlessly following their fearless leader down the path to ruin.

Mutts R Stupid

October 28th, 2009
1:05 pm

I believe the Federal government has been operating is a State of Emergency for the last 40 odd years, it allows the feds to pay military officers at their temporary rank (usually one rank higher than their permanent rank).

Mutts R Stupid

October 28th, 2009
1:15 pm

The United States is officially in an ongoing (and effectively permanent) state of emergency declared by several Presidents due to multiple problems. For example, during the Korean War on December 16, 1950, President Truman issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2914,[18] declaring a state of national emergency[19] which would not end until September 14, 1978[20] as a result of the National Emergencies Act. Another example is one which began on January 24, 1995 with the signing of Executive Order 12947 by President Bill Clinton. In accordance with the National Emergencies Act, the executive order’s actual effect was not a declaration of a general emergency, but a limited embargo on trade with “Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process”.[21] This “national emergency” was expanded in 1998 to include additional targets such as Osama bin Laden,[22] and has been continued to at least 2008 by order of President George W. Bush.[23] There are a number of other ongoing national emergencies of this type, referenced at [1] and [2], regarding for instance diamond trade with Sierra Leone. Especially noteworthy are the ongoing states of emergency declared on September 14, 2001 through Bush’s Proclamation 7463, regarding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,[24] that declared on March 15, 1995 with respect to Iran,[25] and that declared on November 14, 1979 regarding the Iran Hostage Crisis.[26]
The U.S. Constitution states: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”[27] The constitution also provides an exemption from the privilege of a grand jury hearing for cases arising in the military when in service in a time of “public danger”. These are the only emergency provisions in the constitution.[28]
Habeas corpus was suspended on April 27, 1861 during the American Civil War by Abraham Lincoln in parts of Maryland and some midwestern states, including southern Indiana. He did so in response to demands by generals to set up military courts to rein in “copperheads”, or those in the Union who supported the Confederate cause. Lambdin P. Milligan and four others were accused of planning to steal Union weapons and invade Union prisoner-of-war camps, and were sentenced to hang by a military court in 1864. However, their execution was not set until May 1865, so they were able to argue the case after the Civil War. It was decided in the Supreme Court case Ex Parte Milligan 71 US 2 1866 that the suspension was unconstitutional because civilian courts were still operating, and the Constitution only provided for suspension of habeas corpus if these courts are actually forced closed.
The Supreme Court ruling in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer established that presidents may not act contrary to Acts of Congress during an emergency.

Merriam Webster

October 28th, 2009
1:30 pm

@ Piso Mojado

Piece of advice – next time to decide to offer spelling corrections in the comments section, it would be prudent to proof your own post.

“Let’s just Georgians aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer.”

Neither are you my friend.

-Georgian living in Boston

Piso Mojado

October 28th, 2009
3:50 pm

@Merriam Webster

So I missed a word. At least I know how to spell. Living in Boston is great. Isn’t it wonderful to walk around a major city at night and not have to worry about being shot?

BTW – you missed a comma – your last statement should have read “Neither are you, my friend.”


October 28th, 2009
6:27 pm

If they give a man hell for wearing an earring, he should just hit them with his pocketbook.

Ayn Rand Was Right

October 29th, 2009
8:16 am

Booger – thanks for saying it!

This country, built by people who believed in hard work, fair dealings and love of country, has turned into the land of “gimme”. Our forefathers may not have been perfect, but they left us with a solid foundation of strong business, national safety and the ability to evolve our viewpoints, legally. In the last 80 years our representatives have used that freedom to take America from self sufficient to self centered and self loathing.

If we collectively wake up and start doing for ourselves, our neighbors and our communities soon (via free will not government mandate), we may have a chance to save this great nation. Go read Atlas Shrugged, go see Gran Torino, go inspire yourself in a way that works for you. Realize that regulated fairness is NEVER fair. You are the only one who can save you. Our elected representatives are only interested in personal preservation to avoid becoming a part of the system they created to maintain manufactured power.

And for those more interested in my spelling/grammar than the message, I have a message for you…I DON’T CARE, this is a blog not a flippin’ English class!

Turd Ferguson

October 29th, 2009
9:59 am

Something about this swine-flu just doesnt feel right. IMO…the govt breed the virus then spread the virus to create some kindve hysteria, which isnt quite as hysterical as they had hoped.

This whole Swine-flu episode reeks of govt initiation and involvement. And it pains me to see these SHEEPLE all lined up like “pigs to the slaughter” to receive their vaccination.

There is a fly in the slaw some

Turd Ferguson

October 29th, 2009
10:01 am

There is a fly in the slaw somewhere.

Chris Broe

October 29th, 2009
10:42 am

Grading Barr: C+

Barr’s continues to plague this blog with Draconian obsfucation of Lincolnian Habeas Corpus suspensions. Barr’s sense of government responsibility reveals not so much a condemnation of the “Patriot Act” as it is proof of the “Patent Idiot Act”.

The Mayo Clinic has been warning us for years that there could be an epidemic of the inhalation form of PMS. I wonder what Bob Barr would write then: “Obama must pass the Period Act now! Quarantine these contagious demons now!! And of course take their guns away. An armed PMS patient? Please! I dont want to catch PMS, do you? Where is the government’s interference with our stupid bill of rights? What were the founding fathers thinking? HELP!!”




October 29th, 2009
9:09 pm

How did the H1N1 crisis get to be about the police destroying property? How did it get to be about guns? Do libertarians just constantly obsess about this boogerman of the evil government taking away their precious phallic symbols?


October 30th, 2009
2:32 pm

Declaring a national emergency does makes it legally impossible for people who have had a bad reaction to or died from the vaccine to sue the drug companies who made the vaccine. Just in time for the majority of the vaccines to arrive and be administered. Interesting timing . . .


November 1st, 2009
12:06 pm

What some people fail to realize (Piso Mojado, this means you) is that the government will never take away your freedoms in one fell swoop. It will do it incrementally. Think frog in the pot of water that is gradually brought to a boil — the frog won’t jump out. By the time you realize you have lost your freedoms and rights it will be too late. People in Great Britain are finding this out after their government made handguns illegal and other types of guns almost impossible to own. The thugs have been preying on the unarmed populace with knives and illegal handguns, When the British government makes it illegal to own knives, the thugs will switch to clubs. It is not the object that is dangerous, but the person using the object. One of my many guns is nothing but a paperweight until I pick it up.

What Me Worry

November 2nd, 2009
9:59 pm

Our freedoms are not guaranteed and we are in fact less free then we were 25 years ago (ex. you have to have a drug test to get a ditch digging job. This is because the government won’t do buisness with any company that doesn’t require a drug test).

Sure we could stick our heads in the sand and trust big brother or we can research the number of people denied habeas corpus and the charges against them under the Patriot Act. The reason we should be vigilant against government power expansion is not necessarily because of what will happen tomorrow but what will happen 50 years from now. Every government that has existed, exists now or will exist in the future did or will continously seek to expand its powers.

BTW Detroit has some of the most restrictive gun laws and the highest number of muders and Massachusetts had 1,155 muders in 07 – Atlanta 1,624 niether is anything to brag about.


November 3rd, 2009
1:33 am

My county Public Health Officer has asked our board of supervisors to declare a State of Emergency, They will vote tommorrow Tuesday November
3,. I have written to all the supervisors asking them not endorse this measure. They claim there have been 15 deaths here since April due to H1N1. That’s no more an emergency than the total of people who have been murdered or have died in car wrecks or have gone missing. The numbers just don’t justify calling a State of Emergency. I am not rushing out to line-up for my shot. I will wait to see how others react. I hear the vaccine takes 10 to 13 days to work. It could take years to see all the bad effects from it. I don’t know yet who to believe. I know that the makers of the vaccine will get very rich if vaccines become mandatory. The government will get something they want in exchange for this lucrative contract, and our continued health does not seem to be reason enough.