Property, Vaccine Passports, and Civil Rights
We are deep in the era of bad faith arguments, so of course David Frum had to pop up with an Atlantic essay/column/post whatever treating objections to vaccine passports as some sort of bizarre crazy new Republican thing that conveys a disrespect for... private property.
The meandering essay begins with an attack on right-to-carry laws.
Today, 12 other states allow virtually anyone to carry their weapon in their vehicle onto other people’s property. The property owner is forbidden to object or forbid. Eleven more states override the property rights of parking-lot owners a little less drastically. In those states, only concealed-carry permit holders may take their guns into parking lots. Altogether, in almost half the states in the country, gun rights now trump property rights to a greater or lesser degree.
Would Frum agree that a property owner has the right to bar black or Asian people from his cafe?
Presumably, he doesn't and would agree that civil rights trumps property rights. (Whether that's constitutional or not is a whole other conversation, but I presume Frum thinks that it is). The question then isn't whether civil rights trump property rights, but whether some rights are more important than other rights. That would be the honest way of having that particular conversation, but Frum may have the intelligence to understand that is the issue, but there's no audience and no willingness to actually have an argument like that in good faith, instead of just bad faith contempt.
Frum extends the metaphor of right-to-carry to Governor DeSantis' campaign against vaccine passports in Florida.
And yet the example is even worse because where gun bans outlaw people exercising their second amendment rights, vaccine passports outlaw whole classes of people, not just vaccine opponents, and have the potential of creating a two-tier society in ways ominously similar to segregation.
As I noted in, "Immunity Passports Bring Back Racial Segregation", the parallels are there.
If a cafe owner can't ban someone based on race, can they ban someone based on medical disability who are too vulnerable to be vaccinated? Can they ban parents of children who are too young to take the vaccine?
These are basic civil rights questions. Instead of engaging with them, Frum works to own the cons' by trying to prove they're hypocrites using a strawman.
But beyond civil rights, he's evading yet another issue.
"A sizable minority of Americans want to use airplanes belonging to others, theme parks belonging to others, sports stadiums belonging to others—without concession to the health of others or the property rights of owners. With guns, with COVID-19, with tech, the new post-Trump message from the post-Trump GOP is: Private property is socialism; state expropriation is freedom. It’s a strange doctrine for a party supposedly committed to liberty and the Constitution, but here we are."
Does Frum believe that states shouldn't regulate the actions of major corporations? If a number of major corporations colluded to deny access to a minority group, would he passionately argue for property rights?
We're not, mind you, talking about the property rights of homeowners, but of companies that effectively control social intercourse, transportation, and major elements of public life that go well beyond the cafe owner whose eatery was declared a public accommodation under the control of the federal government to stamp out segregation.
Do states have a compelling interest to protect personal rights when interacting with corporations that control public life?
That's the question when it comes to both Big Tech monopolies and vaccine passports.
What exactly is the argument for insisting that the federal government has the right to tell a cafe owner whom he can serve, but that states can't tell Google or the local sports arena (which odds are that taxpayers subsidized anyway) whom they can serve?
An honest answer in good faith would be nice. But we know enough not to expect one of those anymore.