Oklahoma Supreme Court allows free range activity for Trump rally

Today is the day for President Trump’s first big rally since the novel coronavirus shut down all such massive public gatherings earlier this year. The location is Tulsa, Oklahoma at the BOK Center arena. Up until yesterday, questions remained about what sort of safety precautions would be in place to suppress the risk of causing a spike in COVID-19 cases or if the rally would even happen at all. But on Friday, the state supreme court put the matter to rest, ruling that the plaintiffs in a suit seeking to force social distancing rules and the use of facemasks at the rally had not made their case. The justices also noted that they could not “fashion rules or regulations where none exist.” (NY Post)

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Friday rejected a bid to require everyone inside the arena at President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa Saturday to maintain social distancing of at least six feet and wear a face mask — clearing the way for the rally to proceed.

“It is not the duty of this Court to fashion rules or regulations where none exist,” the court wrote in a unanimous decision.

The petitioners did not establish that they have a “clear legal right” to the relief requested, wrote Chief Justice Noma D. Gurich, who was first appointed by a GOP governor but reappointed by a Democrat.

This doesn’t appear to be a pro-Trump or anti-Trump decision based on the wording of the ruling. The justices are noting that the state’s guidelines on social distancing for “entertainment venues” are not mandatory and there is neither a legislatively passed law nor an executive order from the Governor mandating such precautions. The plaintiffs in the case were basically asking the court to craft a new law out of thin air and apply it only to this one venue for a specific event. And that’s something they couldn’t do if they wanted to. New York’s Governor has been trashing the planned rally, but he at least has executive orders in place to govern such events. (Not that they’re ever applied to rioters.)

Something else to note here is the identity of the plaintiffs. The suit was supposedly being brought on behalf of “two local residents described as having compromised immune systems and being particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.” But the entire challenge was being pushed by the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. The group declares that they work on productive solutions to racial divisiveness and they work in partnership with Black Lives Matter. Let’s just say it’s a safe bet that they’re probably not a big MAGA center.

But the other thing to know about the JHFCR is that they’re holding a rally of their own today, also being co-sponsored by Black Lives Matter. Nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s still a free country, at least for the time being. But if you look into the details of the rally, they aren’t mandating social distancing or facemasks at their rally either. Social distancing for thee, but not for me, eh? Things that make you go “hmmm.”

As far as the rules for the Trump rally go, by the letter or the law (or lack of law as the case may be), everyone is going to have to make up their own mind as to whether or not they wear a mask or how close together they stand. Trump doesn’t wear masks, so he’s obviously not eager to look like a hypocrite and make everyone else do it. Personally, there’s no way I would attend without a mask and other precautions, particularly since I’m in one of the highest risk groups. And the Tulsa area is in the middle of a significant spike in new COVID-19 cases, so pretending that the risk is trivial isn’t really an honest approach.

But as for the younger, healthy Trump supporters who are planning to go, that’s up to them. And you can rest assured that the media is going to be monitoring the area for any signs of new COVID cases in the coming weeks and trying to trace it back to anyone in a MAGA hat who was at this rally. I somehow doubt that the same level of attention will be paid to any new cases coming from the JHFCR/BLM rally.

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