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Sat Oct 30, 2021, 07:52 AM

Let's Give DeSantis the Bolsonaro Treatment


Let’s Give DeSantis the Bolsonaro Treatment
Sovereign immunity can’t be a get-out-of-jail-free card for officials whose negligence, dereliction of duty and actions cost lives.
Irwin Redlener
Updated Oct. 30, 2021 3:13AM ET / Published Oct. 29, 2021 8:25PM ET

Now that a Brazilian Congressional panel has voted to recommend that President Jair Bolsonaro—whom Donald Trump has endorsed for re-election—should be charged with incitement to crime, violation of social rights, and crimes against humanity for his abysmal and lethal pandemic response, it is perhaps time that we considered similar charges against U.S. political leaders for their nonfeasance and negligent policies during the pandemic.


Citizens should be able to bypass sovereign immunity and sue state officials for willful and negligent disregard of local jurisdictions’ right to protect the health and safety of school children in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis banned the use of masks and mandatory vaccinations, actions which likely led to pediatric wards overflowing with COVID-positive children. Official CDC studies have even shown that schools without mask requirements see rates of child COVID-19 cases that are 50 percent higher than those requiring masks. Other pathways to liability for elected officials also exist through violations of specific state constitutions or via the Federal Tort Claims Act, among others.

Winning an election can’t be a get-out-of-jail-free card for negligence, dereliction of duty, and overt acts that endanger lives and undermine the well-being of their constituents. What’s clear is that self-serving political leaders who knowingly put the lives of their constituents at risk are not qualified to lead in a time of a lethal public health crisis.

Trump has already been removed by the voters, but for those who are still in positions of executive power we can’t wait to vote them out at the ballot box when their negligence and misfeasance is costing lives. We need lawyers, critical media, and concerned citizens to lift the veil of “sovereign immunity” which has for too long protected those who have abused their power and exacerbated the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without near-term legal accountability, civil and criminal, we could unnecessarily lose thousands more American lives by the time the next election cycle rolls around.

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