Hey Governor Lamont, let us sue anti-maskers for $10,000! 

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Despite cases for COVID-19 being on the rise these past few weeks, federal and state control over masking has decreased recently. This trend paints a dangerous picture, as Omicron is already overwhelming hospitals in specific areas of the US. Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash.

Governor Lamont should delegate enforcement of masks to students through state lawsuits. My specific supplication is that the Connecticut General Assembly should create a bill based on the Texas Heartbeat Act, which Gov. Lamont should sign into law immediately. However, rather than giving the populace at large the right to sue those who aid women in getting abortions, the general public should be granted the authority to sue those who fail to wear masks in compliance with the masking protocol of Connecticut public universities. This will solve the student loan crisis and raise mask compliance, as well as give New England a voice in the current nullification crisis. Students, visitors, as well as UConn staff members in their individual capacity, should be able to sue anti-maskers who flagrantly violate UConn’s policies with impunity and other Connecticut state universities should join in the fun too. These bounty hunters, who would disproportionately be students since we are talking about colleges, would receive $10,000, subsidies for legal fees and other costs a judge deems proper from potential anti-mask defendants. This should be done before Jan. 29, 2022 so the law is in play when students return back to UConn. 

According to U.S. News Rankings and the Hartford Courant, the two best universities in the state of Connecticut are Yale University and the University of Connecticut. Going off of this, two students from the top two universities in Connecticut published anti-mask articles in their respective student-run newspapers here and here, and both articles have been thoroughly repudiated here and here. Therefore, there is no valid reason why mask mandates should cease this semester since there are no serious arguments against masks that have not been thoroughly defeated as far as Connecticut students are concerned. If anything, Omicron being a sufficient enough threat to push Yale and UConn online for two weeks is proof that Connecticut needs more aggressive enforcement of masks, not less.  

Currently, masks are enforced by professors and staff members, but this system is not optimal. If a student declines to wear a mask, and I don’t mean wear a mask incorrectly, I mean just outright doesn’t wear a mask, professors, in my experience, don’t respond or respond in a largely benign indirect way. I don’t blame them. After all, UConn likely gets its ranking as the best public university in New England because of these professors. Not only are they teaching full-time, but they are also doing research for their fields. They don’t have time to babysit. However, such laissez-faire enforcement commands a nonobservance of the mask mandate policies. A command from the administration for stricter mask enforcement would make neither the staff nor professors happy, and they likely wouldn’t comply anyway since professors simply have better things to do. In other words, the current enforcement system is clearly flawed and a new one is desperately needed. 

With student debt on the rise across the country during the pandemic, many students are stressed about their future careers and the affordability of college. Coupled with the stress of the pandemic and online school, things are tough for most college students around the country. Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels.

Furthermore, student debt is rising all across America and there is no relief in sight. The president of the United States has declined to engage in loan forgiveness, likely because he doesn’t have the authority to do so. Still, this student debt dilemma is bad, especially for Nutmeggers who have historically had the highest average student loan debt. This has resulted in students petitioning the state legislature for a redress of grievances. Their cries could be solved by a $10,000 judgment against some random anti-masker who deliberately ignores our rules and regulations. At the same time, it is imperative that mask compliance remains high since things have changed since my last article. Now I was pretty fervently pro-mask in my last article, but since then, UConn cases have been rising presumably due to Omicron and most Connecticut universities have implemented delayed openings. Now is a time where mask compliance must be at its highest so distance learning, which is basically a quasi-home arrest for most, does not become permanent. Students under quasi-house arrest perform poorly compared to those in class, and those who perform better online can just take online courses for their four years at UConn. The threat of a massive civil penalty would deter even the most defiant students to comply with masks, and this is a far better enforcement mechanism than a professor maybe throwing a student out for a single class, which isn’t a real penalty. 

In the Supreme Court case, BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996) the court ruled that as citizens we have a right under the 14th amendment against excessive civil penalties. Obviously, this law that I present would be clearly “grossly excessive” and thus violate the substantive due process rights (the right against excessive civil fines) of anti-maskers, but the Texas law clearly creates an undue burden and violates the substantive due process rights (the right of privacy) of women. If Texas can do it, then a much better state like Connecticut can too. Unlike Texas though, the Connecticut General Assembly should avoid including any enforcement by a state official in their official capacity, as Texas’ inclusion of such might be why their law falls. Justice Gorsuch asserts that comparing the current nullification crisis to the one noted in the Events Leading To The American Civil War “wildly mischaracterizes the impact of today’s decision” and “cheapens the gravity of past wrongs.” On the contrary, such comparisons perfectly encapsulate the wrongness of the decision and point out the real dangers that decision creates. Gorsuch’s failure to see the obvious renders him disingenuous or woefully incapable of seeing what teenagers are capable of seeing.  

For all these foregoing reasons, the time has come to fix all these issues with one solution. Gov. Lamont and the majority of the Connecticut General Assembly, you know what to do. $10,000, plus attorney fees, would help pay off our loans and stop college kids from protesting you annually. Please do not interpret this exhortation as a subtle defense of a woman’s right to get an abortion, as I express no views on that issue publicly. I merely reiterate Republican appointee Chief Justice John Roberts’ views on these types of laws which is “The nature of the federal right infringed does not matter; it is the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system that is at stake.” Indeed, it may be something niche like abortion today, but it could be something relevant to all Americans like 4th amendment protections tomorrow and that’s the issue. Yet the Court ignores this and now Florida and California are joining this crisis. This state should too, while simultaneously solving a bunch of other quandaries.  

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