The TRACE Act and the Rule of Law
On May 1, 2020, Democratic congressman Bobby Rush introduced bill H.R. 6666, otherwise known as the “Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone Act” (“TRACE Act”).
Ostensibly, the TRACE Act will limit the spread of COVID-19 by creating “mobile health units” that will “conduct diagnostic testing… trace and monitor the contacts of infected individuals” and then “support the quarantine of such contacts.” The TRACE Act allocates $100 billion in federal funds to facilitate this project.
Rush says "increased testing and contact tracing is the only way we will get back normal and safely reopen our economy." Basically, Rush’s position is that America should remained locked down until everyone is tested.
The TRACE Act will not keep Americans healthy or safe. Instead, it will erode what remains of our constitutional freedoms -- freedoms which have been all but washed away during the pandemic’s hysteria.
Although the TRACE ACT has been sponsored by over 50 congressmen it received very little media coverage. Briefly: how does bill H.R. 6666 work?
Section 2(a) of the TRACE Act provides that the government may award grants to “eligible entities” to conduct “diagnostic testing for COVID-19”, to “trace and monitor the contacts” of any infected people, and to “support the quarantine of such contacts.” This will be administered by (1) “mobile health units,” which will provide services relating to “testing and quarantine” at people’s residences. The TRACE Act appropriates $100 billion in 2020 to carry out the above mission.
Exactly who are the “eligible entities” that will be administering these COVID-19 tests and “support[ing] the quarantine”?
According to Section 2(f)(1) they could range from a “Federally qualified health center” to a “nonprofit organization.” If that were not vague enough, the bill also gives the government the discretion to declare “any other type of entity… to be an eligible entity.” Basically, an “eligible entity” is anything the government would like it to be.
These “eligible entities” have a number of tasks. First, they may conduct COVID-19 tests. As the bill does not providing any direction as to how these tests will be conducted, the discretion will largely rest with those entities administering the tests.
The entities will also be tasked with contact tracing people who are infected with COVID-19. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contact tracing is the process of identifying people whom the infected individual had come into contact with during their infection’s incubation or symptomatic period.
To stop the infection’s spread, the TRACE Act empowers entities to “support the quarantine” of identified contacts. How the mobile health units are supposed to support the quarantine is left up to the administrator’s imagination.
Finally, Section 2(e) of the TRACE Act notes that nothing contained in the same should be construed as superseding “any Federal privacy or confidentiality requirement,” and the mobile health units will only operate in areas where the infection rate is above the national average. The Constitution also offers a set of limitations.
The TRACE Act has a number of serious flaws.
First, the act gives the government virtually unlimited discretion in defining what constitutes an “eligible entity.” An eligible entity could be a local hospital or medical clinic, but it could also be a “nonprofit organization” like George Soros’ Open Society or the Clinton Foundation. Frankly, it could even be a mercenary corporation like Blackwater provided that the government approved them.
Not only will the TRACE Act let the government award up to $100 billion in grants to their cronies, allowing third parties to administer the program opens it up to serious abuses of process and power. Recent examples of nonprofits behaving badly makes this clear.
Consider that although Planned Parenthood's ostensible purpose is to advocate for birth control, in reality this nonprofit uses federal money to build secret abortion “mega-clinics.” Likewise, they openly engage in selling organs and stem cells for aborted fetuses -- Constitution be damned.
Further, dozens of American nonprofits work tirelessly to bring people into the country illegally. They ignore the rule of law. They mock the Constitution. In fact, their very existence is based on subverting American laws.
Given the above, it is not difficult to imagine nonprofits forcibly testing or quarantining people. Although the TRACE Act does not make testing mandatory, this may be its ultimate effect.
Snopes has responded to critics of the TRACE Act, noting that the privacy protections found in other federal legislation, as well as the Constitution, provide ample protection from invasive testing, contact tracing, and quarantine. Sadly, these Constitutional protections are nearly useless.
As early as February, the government forced people into quarantine to contain the virus. At this point, entire states have been locked down for months. Public gatherings of over 15 people have been precluded. Weddings have been cancelled. Churches were empty this Easter. People are serving jail time for opening their businesses during lockdown.
The Constitution gives Americans the right to walk around outside -- but are they walking around outside? Or are law-abiding citizens hiding in their homes for fear of fines or jail time.
Finally, the TRACE Act would allow eligible entities to perform contact tracing. What does this entail? It could be as innocuous as asking people where they went and who they saw. It could also be much more invasive.
Consider that Apple and Google are already working in “close cooperation and collaboration with… governments, and public health providers” in order to track down people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. They are doing this through “the use of Bluetooth technology” which is contained in most people’s smart phones. They are doing this without your knowledge or explicit consent.
Will shadowy “mobile health units” be any more transparent than public corporations like Apple? Or will they function more like private eyes, snooping through people’s contact history?
Despite its vague language and large budget, the ominously named bill H.R. 6666 will likely accomplish little more than waste money. Far more concerning is that the government is using COVID-19 as a pretext to suspend the rule of law, to do away with the protections enshrined in the Constitution.
At this point it should be painfully clear: The Constitution will not protect us. We must protect the Constitution.