Ignore Sisolak, and decide for yourself how to celebrate Thanksgiving

Robert Fellner

The latest mandates issued by Governor Steve Sisolak, in addition to further restricting businesses across the state, require that Nevadans wear masks within their own homes while enjoying Thanksgiving dinner. They also forbid Nevadans from having guests over that come from more than one household — meaning, for example, a married couple who invite two single guests from different households over for dinner would be in violation of this edict.

While some Nevadans might bristle at being told that they are forbidden from enjoying a private Thanksgiving dinner with a few friends, there is good news: These arbitrary mandates are wholly incompatible with our constitution and, as such, should be considered null and void.

Law enforcement officials, who swear an oath to the constitution, rather than to a Governor or King, should thus refuse to enforce Sisolak’s lawless proclamations if and when Nevadans choose to ignore them.

As if he was trying to demonstrate just how unlawful and meritless his edicts are, Governor Sisolak recently admitted in a call with the press that he had no data showing the specific industries he was further crushing — bars, restaurants, gyms and churches — were responsible for the recent spike in cases.

No matter. The Governor must do something, you see. There is no longer even a pretense of scientific justification for these arbitrary and rights-violating edicts. For example, a family of six may go out to eat, but they must be seated at separate tables. Perhaps to ensure more servers interact with them? Wait, weren’t these measures supposed to keep folks from interacting with people outside of their immediate household?

Lockdowns are not only an unconstitutional and impermissible violation of Nevadans’ fundamental rights; they are also incredibly deadly in their own right. Through increased poverty, the increase of mental health challenges and countless other quality of life issues, these shutdowns are inflicting damage well beyond just that created by the virus itself.

These very real costs, and the uncertainty over whether lockdowns can effectively control the spread of a virus, are why such measures were historically opposed by public health officials, who instead sought to quarantine only the sick and vulnerable.

A just-published study suggests that this previous aversion to lockdowns was well founded. After analyzing 8 months of global data — distinct from the limited and flawed data used to inform early modeling projections — the authors found a “lack of any association” between government actions taken during the pandemic and the COVID-19 mortality rate. It was, instead, “the determining demographic, health, development, and environment factors [that] seem much more important to anticipate the lethal consequences of the Covid-19 than government’s actions.”

The stringency of government-imposed restrictions, including lockdown, “did not appear to be linked with death rate,” the authors determined.

In other words, the justification for the freedom-crushing lockdowns we’ve experienced over the past year is quite weak.

It is unfortunate that Governor Sisolak believes it is his job to achieve the impossible and stop a virus from spreading. Life, at least in a free society, entails risk. Government was not created to guarantee perfect safety. As the Nevada Constitution plainly states, our government was created to secure the blessings of freedom. Infringements upon that freedom must be narrowly tailored and justified by overwhelming evidence that supports the public interest being pursued.

Lockdowns in general, and Sisolak’s most recent mandates in particular, fall spectacularly short on both counts.

So, go forward with your plans this week and have a happy and free Thanksgiving!

Robert Fellner

Robert Fellner

Policy Director

Robert Fellner joined the Nevada Policy in December 2013 and currently serves as Policy Director. Robert has written extensively on the issue of transparency in government. He has also developed and directed Nevada Policy’s public-interest litigation strategy, which led to two landmark victories before the Nevada Supreme Court. The first resulted in a decision that expanded the public’s right to access government records, while the second led to expanded taxpayer standing for constitutional challenges in Nevada.

An expert on government compensation and its impact on taxes, Robert has authored multiple studies on public pay and pensions. He has been published in Business Insider, Forbes.com, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, RealClearPolicy.com, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, ZeroHedge.com and elsewhere.

Robert has lived in Las Vegas since 2005 when he moved to Nevada to become a professional poker player. Robert has had a remarkably successfully poker career including two top 10 World Series of Poker finishes and being ranked #1 in the world at 10/20 Pot-Limit Omaha cash games.

Additionally, his economic analysis on the minimum wage won first place in a 2011 George Mason University essay contest. He also independently organized a successful grassroots media and fundraising effort for a 2012 presidential candidate, before joining the campaign in an official capacity.