Judge Rules Against Arizona Woman Who Claimed Quarantine Rules Violate Her 'Right to Travel'
The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of travel? Last Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit claiming that New York state’s 14-day quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus was a violation of Americans’ “fundamental right to travel.”
Arizona resident Cynthia Page filed the suit in the Northern District of New York in July after canceling plans to travel to Brooklyn to help friends move out of a home they were preparing to sell, as well as fulfill “her lifelong dream to visit New York City.”
“The State of New York is not an independent country,” the claim stated. “The Governor of New York does not have dictatorial powers that permit him to require healthy, law-abiding citizens to remain quarantined, which is akin to a house arrest, for 14 days as a condition on their right to freely travel in and through the State of New York.”
But last week, U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd ruled against Page — making him at least the second federal judge to uphold the quarantine standards, like the one set by Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 24.
At the time of Page’s filing, the New York state quarantine rule applied to people traveling from the higher-risk states of Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas. As numbers have gone up since then, the threshold of states exceeding 10 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 residents, or positive tests in excess of 10 percent in a rolling seven-day period, has expanded to cover anyone traveling from 31 states, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Breaking the quarantine could result in a $10,000 civil penalty.
The lawsuit claimed that it didn’t make sense that people can travel freely between New Jersey and New York, but couldn’t come from Arizona. However, New Jersey and Connecticut have banded together with New York, sharing the same 14-day quarantine requirements.
Page’s filing also cited that the quarantine violated the equal protection guarantee of the 14th Amendment — the same amendment that figures into cases like Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade.
Hurd pointed out in his dismissal of the suit that the quarantine doesn't prevent anyone from traveling, as long as they complete the quarantine — a life-saving measure at a time when total cases in the country have surpassed 5.4 million and 169,910 deaths have been recorded.
“Whether resident or non-resident, any traveler who completes the quarantine remains completely free to travel freely within the State itself,” Hurd wrote. He also added: “There is nothing conscience-shocking about the Executive Order... states around the country are grappling with an unfolding public health crisis.”
Page’s lawyer told the New York Post that they plan on fighting back since their response is “out of fear of the pandemic, but has ignored basic constitutional law.”
This isn’t the only quarantine lawsuit a federal judge has thrown out. In June, U.S. District Judge Jill Otake in Hawaii dismissed the U.S. Department of Justice’s statement in a suit filed by four people in California, Hawaii, and Nevada, upholding the quarantine measures in place, with the state’s attorney general office saying they were “properly and lawfully issued and have been critical to protecting Hawaii from the COVID-19 pandemic.”