Apr. 21, 2020

DeSantis will lead with ‘common-sense’ approach to re-opening Florida economy

Gov. Ron DeSantis has come under fire for his restraint in exercising the government’s enormous power by not ordering an extreme Orwellian statewide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

I firmly believe that, as data comes to light and the experts look back, DeSantis will be firmly regarded as one of very few leaders who demonstrated balance and insight in managing a public health crisis, without trampling on citizens’ rights and ignoring the U.S. and Florida constitutions — which both remain in full force and effect. 

Now, this same carefully weighed, common-sense approach must guide the schedule for “re-opening” business and restarting everyday life.
The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas opined extensively on the imperative for reticence in exercising the government’s so-called “police powers.”

The progressive icon approvingly cited a previous Supreme Court opinion to the effect that “[liberty] denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to… engage in any of the common occupations of life... to worship God… and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.’"

"This liberty,” the citation continues, “may not be interfered with, under the guise of protecting the public interest, by legislative action which is arbitrary or without reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state to effect.”

While public health is indeed such a “compelling state interest,” even in a crisis, the government must act with a scalpel, not a bludgeon. Restrictions on virtually all public activities — especially plunging all of America into a possible depression — should only happen if they are shown to be narrowly tailored to address the true threat.

Declaring certain businesses and activities “essential” versus “non-essential”, from a constitutional perspective, is nonsense. Who should say that one person’s lawful means of earning a living is “essential” while another’s is not? That end, in and of itself, renders such activities “essential.”

And Douglas made clear that quality of life, so precious to Floridians, is equally “essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness.” He sought to protect even the simple “freedom to walk, stroll or loaf” that are “historically part of the amenities of life as we have known them.” Any interference with these fundamental rights must be "reasonable", with a provable, rational relation to a legitimate purpose.

Shutting down the entire state of Michigan, including keeping people from shopping in certain parts of a store, visiting family or traveling to a second home does not “reasonably” advance public health. Nor are these rights “suspended” in the case of a virus, as police in Mississippi declared to citizens pursuing their freedom to worship from the safety of their cars in a church parking lot.

DeSantis’s directives have generally been tailored to real risks. His limited stay-at-home order has allowed gatherings of up to 10 people and taken a broader view of “essential” activities: including shopping, pet care, recreation, religious services, and visiting healthcare facilities, pharmacies and child-care centers.

He has restricted out-of-state travelers who could transmit the virus; preserved healthcare assets to keep Florida’s outstanding system from being overwhelmed; temporarily suspended foreclosures and evictions; and treated more sparsely populated counties with few cases and deaths differently than hard-hit South Florida.

In particular, he has focused resources and training on protecting the most vulnerable population, our outsized sick and elderly population, even dispatching trained National Guard personnel to nursing homes. As of this past Saturday, Florida was third in the country (behind New York and California) with over 260,000 tests performed.

Despite the thousands of travelers brought here by the Super Bowl and spring break at critical junctures and our population’s vulnerability, it’s become clear that the unmitigated disaster naysayers predicted has not come to pass — thankfully: Florida will not become the next New York. Our healthcare system was not overwhelmed; we’re actually dispatching doctors and nurses to Gotham. In fact, we are at or past the peak of the pandemic here.

Meanwhile, the national economic damage and long-term threats to public health are accelerating. Twenty-two million lost jobs and counting will portend a staggering rise in alcoholism, domestic violence, suicides, drug overdoses, and other “deaths of despair.” Time is running out.

This means the Committee he has convened on re-opening our state should follow his balanced approach — moving with caution but also dispatch. Surely, President Trump’s “gating guidelines” may be helpful — but DeSantis should not let them or media criticism dictate the pace or nature of Florida’s response.

With “reasonable” social distancing and protective requirements targeted to each location and situation — especially given the demonstrated minimal risk to younger populations — many, if not, most businesses and activities, including hospitals, bars, restaurants, hotels, beaches, parks, religious services, even some sports and entertainment should be freed to operate safely as soon as possible.

Under extreme pressure, the governor has taken the right approach to coronavirus — one that now should be the guide for reintroducing normal life as quickly as possible, serving as an example for the rest of America.



Tripp Scott's Paul Lopez Admitted to American College of Trial Lawyers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., February 28, 2023 – Tripp Scott today announced that Paul Lopez has become a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, one of the premier legal associations in North America.

The induction ceremony at which Lopez became a Fellow took place recently before an audience of approximately 525 during the recent Spring Meeting of the College in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Thanks to DeSantis, Florida is no California wasteland of wokeness

As Published in the Miami Herald

An op-ed by Tripp Scott's Ed Pozzuoli

The Golden State continues to generate explosive costs of living, including gas prices over a dollar more than the national average and electricity costs 33% above the nation’s norms.

Pictured: A homeless man moves his belongings from a street near Los Angeles City Hall, background, as crews prepared to clean the area. RICHARD VOGEL AP Photo


Why Should My Company “Outsource” A General Counsel?

This month’s legal opinion is provided by Tripp Scott's Director Matthew Zifrony.

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