Words of encouragement for anxious times

I’m Judge Kevin Smith of the 18th Judicial District. I’m coming to you today in my own capacity and not as a representative of the District Court to give you some encouragement in this very difficult time for our city, county, state and country.

The district court is all but closed thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. I’m in civil and set all of my hearings this week and next a month out so attorneys and litigants could stay home and take care of their families. Beginning week after next, I will hold telephone hearings for civil motions but no trials. Only emergency hearings are happening now, which primarily includes criminal cases, PFA/PFS hearings, and some CINC matters. Suffice to say that the coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone.

Vigilance is the theme today. If you follow me on Facebook, @kmarksmith, you already know how I feel about the coronavirus pandemic and the measures being taken to limit transmission of the virus to vulnerable populations.

I don’t like the virus or the fact that we’re having to give up a measure of freedom to fight it, but if we are vigilant in complying with the stay-at-home and crowd-size orders, we will beat this thing sooner rather than later.

I encourage you to read the essay I posted on the legality of stay-at-home and crowd-size orders, as well as watch the Alliance Defending Freedom video. I conclude that under current case law the Supreme Court will likely find them constitutional. BUT, as a conservative who believes in the founding fathers’ vision of freedom and liberty, we must be vigilant in another sense.

As Benjamin Franklin put it, “Those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.”

These restrictions must be rolled back as soon as possible. Also, they must not be expanded beyond what is necessary to fight the virus. For example, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva ordered all gun stores closed as “nonessential.” If these stay-at-home orders expand to explicitly bar the exercise of other constitutional liberties, there’s a problem that even the Supreme Court might find objectionable.

Thus, we must also be vigilant by keeping an eye on government to keep it from turning this crisis into an excuse to tamp down essential liberties such as the right to keep and bear arms, the right to practice our religion, and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Be vigilant fellow citizens by practicing social distancing and making sure government doesn’t exceed its mandate to keep us safe from this unprecedented health crisis. Also, pray. I pray for you and our leaders who are making very difficult decisions through this crisis.

God bless and stay safe,
Hon. Kevin M. Smith


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