Massachusetts Abandons Its Puzzling Public Health Distinction Between Casinos and Video Arcades
A week after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was sued in federal court for keeping video arcades closed as a COVID-19 hazard while allowing casinos to reopen, he has abandoned that arbitrary distinction. Baker announced today that he will let arcades reopen next week. His explanation illustrates how blithely politicians invoke public health to justify capricious rules that wipe out people’s livelihoods.
Attorney Marc Randazza filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Gideon Coltof, who owns Bit Bar, a restaurant-arcade in Salem. Randazza argued that Baker’s policy, which distinguished between two kinds of businesses that feature electronic games even though they pose similar risks of virus transmission, imposed an unconstitutional, content-based restriction on speech and violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.
Baker originally included arcades in the list of businesses that were allowed to reopen in early July. But he reversed course without explanation, offering nothing but boilerplate about “the latest science” and “input from public health experts.” Now he has flip-floppe
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